A total of £3.1million of public money is being ploughed into water taxi `pontoons' and walkways between Manchester and MediaCityUK, a new footbridge bridge near the University of Salford, and cycle routes for, initially, Broadway and the University.
Salford Council, making £23million cuts next year, is ploughing £1.23million into the schemes, which is just under half of the total cost. The remainder is being met from the Government's Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF). The schemes will, according to a Council report, "provide a range of sustainable travel choices for trips to Salford Quays and MediaCityUK"…
The report adds that its proposals for cycle routes "will provide affordable and accessible transport for residents within a 4-5km radius of Salford Quays" and will "reduce high rates of unemployment" in wards like Pendlebury, Kersal, Broughton, Irwell Riverside, Langworthy, Weaste and Claremont.
Yet, only £165,000 of the £3.1million – or a mere 5.3% - is being earmarked for `residential' cycle routes which go anywhere near these wards.
Cycle routes around Broadway and the University get a total of £572,000 from the funding. So-called `residential links' for Weaste Lane, Langworthy Road and Regent Road get a mere £165,000 – and are last on the timescale list for building. There is no mention of any new cycle schemes for Kersal, Broughton and Claremont.
Meanwhile Salford Council is handing out £22,000 towards five `pontoons' (landing stages) for Water Taxis, or WAXIS, heading from Manchester to Media City, as part of a massive £756,000 total cost.
The huge amount of public money being put towards the WAXIS will draw criticism, as the `pontoon infrastructure' is being put in place for a private company to run the water taxis, on a private stretch of water owned by Peel Holdings, which will no doubt be charging rent to whichever company gets the contract to run the WAXIS.
Salford Council's `capital funding' of £22,000 towards the WAXIS will also draw criticism from campaigners trying to save the blue Cargo Cranes on Salford Quays – which are being demolished for the sake of a £22,000 `capital' funding shortfall (see here).
Another huge chunk of the public money – a total of £1.47million, with Salford Council chipping in £976,000 - is going towards re-opening an old footbridge near The Meadows to "increase accessibility from/to the University", and on the so-called `aspirational walkway' between Manchester and Media City (see here); for "surface and lighting along the Ordsall section of the riverside path between Fairbrother Street and Woden Street Bridge".
Salford Council has also found £150,000 of `revenue' funding for "park rangers and a volunteer programme which will maintain the route and encourage community use" over the next three years along the `aspirational walkway'.
The Council is currently considering slashing the number of its park rangers from six posts to two (see here). Community organisations and `friends of parks' in other areas of Salford will be concerned that the two possibly remaining rangers will be re-located to tarting up areas around Media City.
Indeed, while cutting projects all over Salford, it seems that those surrounding MediaCityUK are immune. Salford Council justifies the huge expenditure, arguing that if it hadn't matched the funding of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund it would have `prevented the projects from being delivered'….