Cycle path's lottery funding 'in jeopardy'
THE final part of a £1.2-million cycle path is in doubt after calls to send the design back to the drawing board.
Festival Way runs from Queen Square in Bristol to Nailsea.
It is being built using £600,000 of lottery funding, in a joint venture between Bristol City Council and neighbouring North Somerset.
But villagers in Long Ashton have objected to the design of an unfinished leg of the route.
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Cycle campaigners say the money to pay for it will be lost if it is not completed by the end of the current financial year. They have launched a petition calling on North Somerset Council, which has the final say over the plans, to make a decision as soon as possible.
But the authority's deputy leader has inflamed tensions by accusing cyclists of "arrogance".
In a message posted to petition organiser Bill Roberts and seen by the Post, councillor Elfan Ap Rees said: "It would be really helpful if those cyclists actually used the cycleways elsewhere in the district that have been provided instead of arrogantly ignoring them by cycling on adjacent roads designed for traffic at speeds of 40/50/60 mph. Similarly, riding on pavements amidst pedestrians. Until they are better behaved I can understand why there is opposition to new cycletrack schemes.
"Neither am I influenced by a petition signed by people who do not live in the vicinity of Long Ashton, know little of the true circumstances and have only one sheeplike point of view.
"North Somerset Council has to consider all road users and the decision will be made with that in mind, not to just satisfy a cycling lobby."
Cycle charity Sustrans won £50 million of National Lottery money in 2007 to fund a national network of cycle and pedestrian routes.
The Nailsea to Bristol path is one of them, but the final section from Cambridge Batch, between Long Ashton and Flax Bourton, along a section of Weston Road to Long Ashton itself, is the subject of safety concerns.
Long Ashton parish councillors last week made their objections to the current design for a third time because of the proximity of cyclists and pedestrians in the planned cycleway.
Bob Cook, a North Somerset councillor for the village, said: "We are holding out for the best possible outcome."
John Usher, Sustrans area manager, said funding for the scheme expires in March 2013 and the work needs to be completed before the end of this year to apply for the money.
He said: "There's a lot at stake. The track is incredibly important for those who are not confident enough to take up cycling next to the cars on a main road."
Mr Ap Rees was unavailable for comment when contacted by the Post.