Shropshire’s Green Party group will propose a fully funded shift towards greener travel across the county at a council budget meeting this week.
The group plans to promote walking, cycling and public transport across Shropshire with a new package of funding proposals.
The Greens will propose two fully funded amendments to the Conservative administration’s budget in an attempt to make travel around Shropshire cleaner, greener and more sustainable.
The first amendment will create a new investment fund of £4.6m for improved facilities for walking, cycling and public transport across the county. It will be funded by increasing some parking charges in Shrewsbury at the Frankwell and Abbey Foregate car parks – bringing Frankwell up to the same price as St. Juliens; and bringing Abbey Foregate up to the previous price of Frankwell.
Says Julian Dean, Group Leader and Councillor for Porthill in Shrewsbury: ‘The fact that it’s currently cheaper to drive than take a bus makes no sense at all. We think it’s only fair that the gap is reduced and the extra funds are used to make bus travel, walking and cycling a safer and more appealing option for everyone.’
The second amendment will ringfence a proportion of the highways maintenance budget to invest in repairing and improving pavements and cycle lanes. The Conservative budget proposes nearly £60m extra for highways maintenance and, under the new Green amendment, a tenth of this will be ringfenced for the improvements.
Says Oswestry Green Party Councillor Duncan Kerr: ‘Shropshire Council plans a substantial investment to improve the terrible state of the roads, which is very welcome. But the Conservatives have refused to commit even a small proportion of the highways budget to look after walking and cycling. Poor pavement surfaces in particular are a real hazard, especially for the vulnerable. They deserve much-needed attention, just as highways do.’
If accepted the two amendments will offer a shakeup of Shropshire’s travel network offering better and cheaper transport options as the cost of living soars. This will also be the first time in many years that an opposition group has offered alternative budget proposals.
Says Councillor Dean: ‘Not everyone can afford to run a car, especially at a time when the cost of living is soaring. Our vision is for Shropshire residents to have more access to walking, cycling and bus services so that no one gets left behind. Since May the new Green group on Shropshire Council has been working to provide an alternative vision for the county and leadership for real change, which is why we’re proud to present these fully-funded proposals. It’s our job to push for Shropshire Council to do better and manage its finances better, while making our county a cleaner, greener and more sustainable place to live.’