Wheels in Motion for Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s Healthy Future

Last week, councillors at Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils approved proposals to create a joint Sustainable Travel Action Plan to further encourage sustainable transport, following cross-party support.

Full Councils at both Mid Suffolk District Council (Thursday 23 July) and Babergh District Council (Tuesday 21 July) approved proposals which will see the creation of a Sustainable Travel Action Plan, aiming to increase sustainable travel over coming years.

The hope is to build on the significant number of people that have either returned to or taken up cycling during COVID-19, by encouraging a permanent shift towards sustainable transport such as cycling, walking or public transport throughout the districts.

Reducing pollution and carbon emissions are also reasons for the shift, with the councils wanting to encourage residents to play their part in making Suffolk the greenest county and in supporting the county-wide ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030, all while enjoying the benefits for health and wellbeing.

The final proposal which was adopted by the administrations, followed motions put forward at both Full Council meetings by Green Party councillors Leigh Jamieson and Daniel Pratt which were amended following cross-party collaboration.

Cllr Jessica Fleming, cabinet member for environment at Mid Suffolk District Council, said: “This is a great example of councillors working together, across the political divide, to ensure we have long-term sustainable transport plans for our communities. As a council, we understand our role in encouraging and supporting our residents to lead active, healthy lives and in enabling them to play their part in the county-wide ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030 – as shown in the unanimous cross-party support for the proposal. While we work towards creating the plan to ensure Mid Suffolk remains a place we’re proud to call home for years to come, I would urge anyone who can to give cycling a go – whether you’re popping to the hairdressers or supporting local businesses in our towns and villages, it all makes a difference.”

Dr Daniel Pratt, who proposed the motion in Mid Suffolk, said: “It’s great to see councillors, regardless of political party, working together towards a common goal. Hopefully, the plan will see a permanent shift in the numbers of people choosing to cycle and walk as opposed to using a car in Mid Suffolk, ensuring our communities can play their part in making Suffolk the greenest county.”

Cllr Elisabeth Malvisi, cabinet member for environment at Babergh District Council, said: “This is wonderful news, and shows our commitment to helping make sure sustainable transport such as cycling, walking or public transport can be a more natural choice for our residents. We’re keen to see uptake of cycling and walking increase, with our residents and local businesses alike all getting involved, to support Suffolk’s county-wide ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030. By making sure we have prioritised and costed routes we can ensure appropriate funding is available for initiatives, such as through CIL, showing how housing development in our district can support our residents to lead bright and healthy futures. I’d encourage everyone to help reduce pollution and road traffic noise in our district, by hopping on a bike next time you’re heading out into our towns and villages – together we can make Babergh better for miles to come.”

Cllr Leigh Jamieson, who proposed the motion in Babergh, said: “I’m pleased to see my motion forming part of a long-term plan for sustainable travel in Babergh. Hopefully, this will encourage more people to choose cycling and walking as their primary mode of transport wherever possible and allow us to create more accessible routes to help our residents get active as part of their routine.”

Working with Suffolk County Council, the councils will be able to ensure local knowledge is at the heart of selecting and costing routes for the plan that meet the needs of both urban and rural areas of Babergh and Mid Suffolk.

This work will build on the councils’ support for other leisure initiatives in the districts, such as Active Schools and Explore Outdoors, which aim to increase physical activity in young children in line with their Joint Leisure, Sport and Physical Activity Strategy. While also adding to the county’s 148 priority routes for cycling improvements, including several within Babergh and Mid Suffolk.

The plan will also ensure sustainable transport will continue to be considered as part of future developments in the district, ensuring funds collected from housing developers through CIL are available for proposed initiatives.

Set to be reviewed every three years, the plan will also explore the potential for future e-scooter and e-bike initiatives, ensuring it links in with the New Anglia LEP’s Economic Strategy.

Anyone wishing to improve their cycling skills can join one of Suffolk County Council’s free road-safe sessions for adults and families with more information at www.suffolkroadsafe.com/family-cycling-sessions, or to find out more about how to get cycling safely visit www.mostactivecounty.com.

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