Claims Derbyshire taxpayer will be asked to help fund Chesterfield cycle path

Total funding for a proposed east-to-west cycle path in Chesterfield will not be covered by Government grants and could partly fall on taxpayers, it has been claimed.

Friday, 4th March 2022, 11:03 am

However, critics of the project say this is based on a ‘rough estimate’ and County Hall has ‘little financial control of the proposal’.

Chesterfield and District Civic Society has made the claims in a letter to the council’s managing director Emma Alexander, seen by the Derbyshire Times, after a series of Freedom of Information requests to the authority.

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The closure of Crow Lane is a key element of the cycle path plan. Critics say some of the cost could fall on taxpayers.

The society believes that ‘there will be cost overruns that will impose costs on all residents of Derbyshire’.

"It is of great concern that the county council is relying on a budget based on a ‘rough estimate’ as advised by the county council in response to a Freedom of Information Act request,” the letter says.

The society says that its analysis of the council’s ‘rough estimate’ ‘arrives at a cost of £1,717,320, including detailed design and contingency’.

This is £37,320 above the amount of the grant of £1.68m received from the Department for Transport.

The civic society says: “While recognising that experienced Derbyshire County Council officers will have made the ‘rough estimate’ in good faith, it is unrealistic to sanction a project of this scale based on a ‘rough estimate’.”

"Evidence that we have obtained from the council shows that there is little financial control of the proposal,” the letter adds.

"This has the serious implication that any cost overrun will have to be funded by the county council from local taxation.”

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council confirmed the letter had been received.

Work continues on this important route for walking and cycling,” she said.

"More people are choosing to walk or cycle and we need to encourage this as much as we can so that we reduce congestion and pollution on our roads and give people the option to be more active. This route will help to do just that.”

The civic society says it is in favour of improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, but objects to the ‘cycle super-highway’ proposed.