#Roads & Transport
Warwickshire County Council
United Kingdom

There is a major threat to the completion of the Connect2 Kenilworth project. Please take action immediately by adding your name to this petition now to express your strong support for the scheme.

The project is one of 79 projects across the UK that won a national vote for £50 million Big Lottery funding for Sustrans in 2007. It will create a safe, mostly off-road, walking and cycling route linking the town of Kenilworth with the University of Warwick campus, and upgrade the existing Greenway route through Burton Green to Berkeswell Station. A key feature of the scheme is a new bridge at Crackley to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians and cyclists over the busy A429 Coventry Road. It will encourage more commuting to work by bicycle or on foot, and be a significant boost for fitness and leisure facilities in the area.

It is one of 5 Connect2 schemes selected by the University of Oxford for a major 5-year study of how such schemes impact on public perceptions/attitudes and commuting habits. As part of this, initial survey requests have been sent out to 7,500 households in the local area.

On 9th September 2010 the Warwickshire County Council Cabinet (WCC) reviewed its capital expenditure programme in the light of severe spending pressures and some government grant funding cancellations. Buried in the mass of detail in the Cabinet papers were cuts to the Connect2 Kenilworth project that would have killed it. Thanks to a spontaneous public outcry the Cabinet deferred any final decision on Connect2 Kenilworth, but the project remains under severe threat.
The Cabinet appears prepared to abandon the scheme, wasting much of what it has already spent on the scheme and spurning generous Sustrans/Big Lottery funding, just to shave £270,000 out of its capital expenditure programme of nearly £600 million. This is a drop in the ocean, especially compared with projects like the Rugby Western Relief Road that is many millions of pounds over budget.

WCC plans to cut all its funding of the project from now on, assuming that the Sustrans/Big Lottery funding of £300,000 will still be forthcoming and can be spent on a more limited version of the project (without the bridge). This assumption is totally incorrect, because Sustrans have confirmed that their funding is dependent on the scheme being completed as planned, with the bridge as the centrepiece.

The WCC/Sustrans/Big Lottery agreement was signed in November 2008, and the two town sections of the route have nearly been completed. Planning permission for the bridge has been obtained, and WCC are ready to go out to tender for its construction. Planning permission for the route alongside Kenilworth Common is currently being sought. There is agreement on the route across the fields from the Greenway to the University.

Just as this critical stage has been reached, with much of the hard work done, the Connect2 Kenilworth project team were told to stop.

From today, of the remaining cost to complete the scheme as planned (with the bridge), more than half is already promised by Sustrans, and the remainder required from WCC.

There is a concern in the WCC Cabinet that going ahead with a £400,000 bridge in these straitened times would look like an extravagance to the general public. After all, it's only for cyclists isn't it? (No it isn't - it's for pedestrians and disabled users as well, and for horse riders on other parts of the route). There seems to be a desire to complete the rest of the scheme, but why can't we settle for a toucan crossing over the Coventry Road instead?

The irony is that because Sustrans remain acutely keen for WCC to complete the scheme with the bridge as planned, they have offered extra help, but made it clear that a scheme without the bridge would no longer attract anything like the same amount of Lottery funding. In reality, if WCC wants to complete the scheme rather than leave the route part built, it will cost no more to WCC to build it with the bridge than without it!

Supporters of the scheme might think such a choice was a no-brainer, but these are difficult times and going to get worse, so public opinion cannot be ignored. The purpose of this petition is therefore to demonstrate unambiguously the continued strength of public support for the scheme that they voted for locally in their thousands at the end of 2007.

A massive response to the petition will force the WCC Cabinet to reconsider. Under new legislation a petition of 1,000 signatures can be presented to the full Council, 1,200 signatures can require a debate by the Warwick Area Committee, while 5,000 signatures can require a debate by the full Council.

Please give this petition all the support you can.

Warwickshire County Council seems prepared to abandon the scheme, wasting most of what it has already spent on the scheme and spurning the generous Sustrans funding, just to shave £270,000 out of its total capital expenditure programme of nearly £600 million.

We the under signed wish the Connect 2 Kenilworth to go ahead as voted for and planned in November 2008.

The Save Connect2 Kenilworth & the Coventry Road Bridge for walkers and cyclists petition to Warwickshire County Council was written by Howard Easton and is in the category Roads & Transport at GoPetition.