Huge regional disparities in Scottish Safe Streets funding

There are huge regional disparities in Safe Streets funding across Scotland, according to research conducted by Friends of the Earth.

The Scottish government created the £30m Spaces for People fund to help councils to introduce temporary road space reallocation measures to enable social distancing and to aid a green recovery from COVID-19.

However, while councils such as Dundee, Glasgow and East Lothian are spending millions on comprehensive plans to make streets safer and healthier, research by Friends of the Earth has revealed that other councils have passed up the opportunity to receive any funding.

According to the research, Dundee City Council secured enough funding to spend £16 per person, whereas Falkirk Council received just enough to spend £1 per person. 

East Dunbartonshire, Shetland and Orkney did not even apply for the funding.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s air pollution campaigner Gavin Thomson said: ‘Many of our public spaces are not sufficient to cope with a pandemic.

‘Our pavements are too narrow to allow safe distancing or allow cafes to offer outdoor dining. Crowding around the entrances to parks or businesses has been a big concern, and parents waiting at school gates in the months to come will also need additional space for distancing. 

‘It’s been great to see councils show innovation and ambition in making sure their places respond to the restrictions we face.

But many Councils are failing to take the support on offer that could help protect their residents. As a result, there are significant regional disparities on infrastructure spending for safer walking, wheeling and cycling.

‘This is about laying the foundations for a green recovery. Better, safer public places, are good for local businesses as well as protecting our health.

‘The Scottish Government has pledged to ensure all underspend on the roads budget this year goes towards other areas like more sustainable transport. We must tackle these regional inequalities, and make sure everyone has access to the walking and cycling facilities that they need, regardless of where they live.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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