£5 million cycle bridge branded ‘latest pet project’ as local community walking and cycle routes go neglected

Oldham Liberal Democrats have criticised Greater Manchester bosses for funding “large vanity projects” instead of local walking and cycling infrastructure after plans for a new £5M cycle bridge between Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne were unveiled earlier this year.

Oldham’s Liberal Democrat Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE said, “This is yet another example of Labour leaders in Greater Manchester prioritising their latest pet projects and neglecting the very basics when it comes to walking and cycling investment. I am sure the bridge will be welcome by some, but most would want the £5M spent elsewhere.”

“£5 million could be better spent bringing cycle provision across Oldham up to standard, making junctions safer and improving neglected pavements and footpaths. Many areas have zero safe cycle provision,” stated councillor Sykes. “Only recently I have had requests for cycling and walking improvements in Shaw and Crompton reject yet we have £5M for this cycle bridge.”

“Ask any resident how cycling and walking improvements should be funded and they will say it needs to be tackled locally and on smaller projects that will make a real difference to local people. These are the things that residents want Oldham Council and GM bosses to act on. Instead, we have them funnelling money into projects like this bridge which will be ‘nice and big and shiny’.”

In their budget recommendations earlier this year, Liberal Democrat Opposition councillors set out a proposal for investment in Oldham’s pavements and footpaths alongside a plan for 20mph speed limits in residential areas to help make walking and cycling safer. The combined cost for the Liberal Democrat backed plans came in at £2.7 million but the ruling Labour group rejected the proposals.

Councillor Sykes said, “Liberal Democrats set out a fully costed plan that would have made a real difference to pedestrians and cyclists at the most local level in our communities, but the Labour group said no. Now they are prepared to spend twice as much on long-term vanity projects.”

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