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Cycling Funding Infrastructure Walking

None of High Peak MP’s claimed £1.7m for ‘local cycling’ to be spent in High Peak

Robert Largan's parliamentary portrait superimposed on the skyline of Chesterfield with its famous crooked church spire.
High Peak MP Robert Largan and the town of Chesterfield (photo: Flickr).

When Robert Largan claimed on his Facebook page and a local media column last November that “after extensive lobbying” he had secured a £1.7 million investment in “local cycling and walking”, he was sadly being somewhat loose with the truth: it has now been confirmed his own High Peak constituency won’t receive a single penny from the money given to Derbyshire.

The Conservative MP for High Peak‘s claims fell on two counts. For one thing, the amount each local authority would receive from the second phase of the Emergency Active Travel Fund had already long been fairly clearly dictated by the Department for Transport.

It is highly unlikely Mr Largan’s lobbying, if he did indeed lobby the department, solicited any increase in funding — especially as the whole county of Derbyshire received £1.7m in the second round compared to Greater Manchester’s whopping £15.8m. Neighbouring Staffordshire received a comparable £1.8m. Great work, Robert.

Secondly, it was already well known as far back as September — and as reported on this very blog — that Derbyshire County Council had earmarked, yes, £1.7m, for a single scheme in Chesterfield. (I recently queried this, just to make sure, and the council confirmed yes, that is where the money Mr Largan claims credit for is going.)

Screenshot from the Robert Largan MP Facebook page, stating "EXTRA £1.7 MILLION FOR LOCAL CYCLING & WALKING. I’m really pleased to report that, after extensive lobbying, Derbyshire is set to receive an additional £1.7million from the Government’s Active Travel Fund, designed to create safe spaces for cycling and walking."
Screenshot from the Robert Largan MP Facebook page.

In fairness, when Mr Largan suggested to his 4,000+ Facebook followers two months later, in November 2020, that the money “could be used to fund measures such as School Streets, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and segregated cycle lanes” he wasn’t entirely wrong — it just wouldn’t be in his own constituency. Or even within ten miles of it (even Bury South is closer to the High Peak).

The Chesterfield scheme looks good — for Chesterfield. Yet it’d be surprising if anyone who lives in the High Peak could ever benefit from it, as the two areas are so disconnected for cycling by the landscape of the Peak District.

We shouldn’t begrudge the town with the crooked spire securing the funding, either, but ask how on earth a paltry £1.7m was ever meant to make the slightest dent in a county the size of Derbyshire.

Robert Largan MP and two friends on a High Peak hilltop, turned away from camera looking into the distance.
“Look guys, we can almost see Chesterfield.” Image: Robert Largan MP, Twitter

Mr Largan went on to brag that the government has “pledged a record £2 billion investment to double cycling and increase walking by 2025”, yet then reduced even this figure to irrelevance by saying it “comes on top of more than £27 billion that will be invested in England’s roads over the next five years”.

Perhaps, if this ever-boasting MP did a bit of “lobbying” to switch some of that obscenely unnecessary roads budget into cycling and walking, his dear High Peak might actually get a pound or two?

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About Peaks & Puddles

Hello, I'm Anthony. I started Peaks & Puddles to chart the ups and downs of cycling and walking the edges of the Peak District around Buxton, Macclesfield and Stockport, and to help more people explore this brilliant landscape between town and country. Find out more about me and Peaks & Puddles here.