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Council to approve £6.9m contribution to £70m Transforming Cities programme


LEICESTER City Council is due to approve investment of almost £7million as part of a major programme of improvements to public transport, cycling and walking across the city.

The city council is set to contribute £6.9million of match funding following a successful bid for £32million from the Government’s Transforming City Fund (TCF).

The cash will contribute to an overall package of investment expected to be about £70million once match funding from all partners is included. This will fund an ambitious series of projects to improve the journey times, quality and reliability of the city’s bus services, and extend the council’s Connecting Leicester programme to support more cycling and walking routes into city neighbourhoods.

It follows on the city council’s earlier successful bid which secured nearly £8million in 2019 from the Department for Transport in its first round of TCF funding. This has helped fund new cycleways linking the city centre to the two universities and Clarendon Park, as well as new routes on the inner ring road, Belgrave Gate and Abbey Park Road. Five electric buses have been ordered for the Park and Ride service between Birstall and the city centre, and the city council is working with Santander on a new bike hire scheme planned to start this year.

The new programme of work will focus on major sustainable transport improvements to provide attractive choices for people to get to work, supporting the city’s growth and delivering on the council’s climate emergency, air quality and healthy living commitments.

Schemes include the development of new bus priority corridors linking to city neighbourhoods and suburbs, and continuing to develop the network of high-quality cycling and walking routes throughout the city.

New bus lanes and safer cycling and walking routes are planned for a number of key routes including St Margaret’s Bus Station to the Park and Ride hub at Birstall; Anstey Lane;  Highcross Street to Groby Road adjacent to the Waterside regeneration area; and Aylestone Road to Saffron Lane, where a temporary cycle lane has recently been installed to support key workers travelling to and from Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Improvements to neighbourhood cycling and walking routes are also planned for the Beaumont Leys area

The new cash will also pay for the electrification of the Park and Ride services from Enderby Park and Meynells Gorse at a cost of around £3milllion.

The council has entered into a contract with Leeds-based provider Pelican Yutong to provide electric buses for Park and Ride. Five buses are already on order for the Birstall service at a cost of £1.9million, and eight more are due to be ordered. The 13-strong fleet of electric buses is expected to be in operation by early 2021.

New park and ride services for Glenfield Hospital and Beaumont Leys will also be developed as part of the Transforming Cities programme.

A city centre electric link bus service will also be developed to connecting the railway and bus stations with the city centre shopping and other key employment areas.

Leicester is one of twelve cities to have successfully secured funding from both tranche 1 and tranche 2 of the Transforming Cities Fund. The combined Government and match funding represent a total investment of around £80million.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The major investment we are making as a council is helping to secure many more millions of pounds of Government funding from the Transforming Cities Fund.

“This will allow us to move forward with our ambitious sustainable transport schemes for cyclists, pedestrians and bus passengers and to deliver a greener solution for the future growth of our city and its economy.

“The programme will also build on the transformational work we have already delivered through our Connecting Leicester programme and provides a strong platform for long-term investment in future public transport improvements.”

Cllr Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor for environment and transportation, said: “This ambitious programme represents a big step forward for the city. It will provide attractive, sustainable travel choices for people, supporting our work around the climate emergency and air quality challenges. It will also help encourage more people to make healthy choices through cycling and walking and support the increasing number of people who are already choosing to travel this way.

“We look forward to delivering some exciting improvements to public transport by introducing electric buses to a much-improved park and ride service and as part of the quality partnership we are developing with local bus operators.”

Match funding will also be provided through the Leicester and Leicester Enterprise Partnership, the business rates pool, local bus operators and other partners.

A final decision on Leicester City Council’s £6.9million contribution to the proposed Transforming Cities programme is due to be taken on Monday 18 May 2020.