The multi-million-pound funding bid to the government to boost non-motor travel in Hereford sparked reaction from Herefordshire’s opposition figures this week.

Conservative group leader Jonathan Lester said during the cabinet meeting to approve the bid on Wednesday that his group welcomed the “active travel” proposals.

“But we make the plea that this dovetails with sensible proposals for the transport infrastructure network, [problems with which] will not go away,” he said.

The Hereford bypass plan, integrated by the previous Conservative administration but cancelled early last year by the current one, “had over £20 million for active travel measures, but that opportunity was lost”.


The council’s head of transport Coun Harrington said: “In this day and age we can’t just expect to travel around by car. We need to encourage people to take active travel seriously – and they want to.”

He added: “I haven’t seen a single active travel measure by the previous administration that serves its purpose – they’re all shared-space [i.e. put cyclists and traffic together], they’re not even compliant with regulations that were coming in at the time. The strategic thought wasn’t there.”

He also said of the council’s planned river crossing to the east of Hereford, not part of the Levelling Up bid: “The first consultants’ work on will be finished next month, which will be able to tell us how long it will take and will start to identify a route.”

Coun Lester also asked: “While I see the merits of 20mph zones, what evidence have we got that they are effective?”

Coun Harrington replied: “Safety increases when you have a 20mph zone, you have less severe accidents. But there’s also the amenity aspect – they make it a better place to live rather than just driven through.

“It is a zone though, not a whole set of streets or an entire road.”

Coun Lester also questioned whether the proposed projects, which must be completed by March 2025, “can be delivered in that timescale”.

Head of finance and planning Coun Liz Harvey said the council’s project management office “will be ensuring projects are managed to time and to budget”.

“But there are risks from inflation, particularly in building materials that we now face,” she said.

“If they go over-budget, that will fall to us to deal with – by de-scoping [i.e. reducing] them if we have to.”

Head of environment and economy Coun Ellie Chowns said of the bid: “The way the Government organises its funding pots really constrains how local authorities can invest in what is strategically needed.

“If they are serious about levelling up across the country, they need to provide longer-term, more flexible and more fairly distributed funding.”

But True Independents group leader Bob Matthews said: “Unless we update our road infrastructure, we won’t attract the companies into the county to generate the wealth and the jobs.”