Chicycle is extremely concerned that we are spending nearly £20,000 of public money on replacing perfectly adequate cycle racks. This is essentially a “prettification measure”. When you decide to travel by bike, when we as councils planning for health and to prevent climate change are trying to encourage cycling, the colour of the racks doesn’t matter. You need more racks… and you need to spend on safety on the streets. But replacing like for like is not essential especially despite all the planning documents (Chichester Vision Feasibility Study, Walking and Cycling Strategy, Growth Plan, Chichester Area Strategic Transport Investment Programme, Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan…) we don’t have a single length of segregated cycle lane to show for it – we have been commenting on such studies on behalf of ChiCycle supporters for nearly 10 years. All we are proposing today do is put in what, I must say, look like rather plain and sterile new racks as replacements for our perfectly sound existing racks.
Council tax has gone up again this year. In the past three years the city council’s precept has gone up by 3 ½ percent and 3 percent – which is in line with inflation if not everybody’s salary – but this year it’s up by 5 ½ percent which is well ahead of inflation and salaries. We owe it to our residents to take stock of what we are spending their money on. And I simply don’t think that a £20,000 prettification project is value for money. Particularly not when the hospital-sterile steel frames are so very unsympathetic to the city centre appearance and the oldy-worldy atmosphere of our York flagstones that visitors come to see (and fall over). (On the one hand we are wishing to retain the old flagstones and on the other we want to revamp the old fingerposts, bins and racks for shiny new steel).
If we are going to spend money, at least let our citizens and visitors see safety measures and something worthwhile, not just a very expensive spring clean. CIL monies should and must be spent on sustainable infrastructure that links the new developments into the city centre and allows people to travel sustainably and safely around the city. CIL monies should mitigate against the new development – this has nothing to do with a vanity project of “smartening up” the city especially when major safety measures are not being prioritised. We are repeatedly told that here are different pots of money and we can’t finance public realm / highways projects. There seem to be a lot in the pots for less important things for example a multitude of statues. When vital safety measures aren’t being funded, the pots need to be shared out better.