Saturday, 19 November 2011

County Tories Making Money On Children’s Cycle Training

Cambridgeshire Tories have been accused of making money out of teaching youngsters to cycle even though the full cost of the courses are funded by the government.

The Conservative-run County Council has started charging schools £15 for each pupil taking part in its cycling schemes – Bikeability and Safer Cycling – despite receiving a government grant to pay for the training.

In the past, the cycling courses had been offered free of charge to Year 5 and 6 schoolchildren.

Susan van de Ven, Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport has questioned the county council on why it has suddenly decided to raise money on the back of the cycle training schemes.

She is worried that schools will not be able to afford the new charges and youngsters will no longer receive the training.

She said: “Bikeability, which is delivered by trained professionals, has full funding available from central government, so the steep county council admin charge makes no sense.

“Safer Cycling is delivered by volunteers, often school teachers and parents. Schools don’t understand why they are suddenly being charged this fee. The cost of £15 per head is prohibitive for many schools and there is a real concern that cycle training take-up will drop off.”

Cllr Sarah Whitebread, Lib Dem Spokesperson for Climate Change, added: “‘Habits taken up at an early age have a good chance of sticking, and walking and cycling bring so many benefits.

“I’m very keen for the council to find a way of making primary school cycle training more accessible. We want to encourage youngsters to see cycling as a viable means of transport so that they continue riding as adults.”