HC Deb 12 February 2004 vol 417 cc475-6WH
5. Hugh Bayley (City of York) (Lab)

What action they are taking to promote (a) walking and (b) cycling to schools. [153643]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Mr. Stephen Twigg)

The Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Transport have signalled our joint commitment via the document "Travelling to School: an Action Plan", which was launched last September. It outlines how schools and local authorities can increase the number of pupils walking and cycling to school. The Government are funding a network of travel advisers and capital grants for schools to promote cycling and walking to school over the next two years. That is a total investment of £50 million.

Hugh Bayley

The percentage of children driven to school in cars continues to rise. Is the Minister aware that the City of York council is on track to meet its target to double the number of cycle journeys taken by nine to 14-year-olds over a five-year period, from 1999 to 2004? While schools in York are glad to receive capital grants from his Department, they also need revenue funding for cycling and pedestrian safety training and school crossing patrols when they produce new travel plans. Will he consider ways of countering the national shortage of lollipop men and women? Without them, walking to school and other pedestrian journeys become much less attractive.

Mr. Twigg

No, I was not aware of that remarkable progress in York, and I congratulate York council and the schools and young people of York on it. I am happy to look into the revenue aspects. I understand the concern about lollipop ladies and men. I am aware of recruitment difficulties in my constituency. I will look at that matter further in response to my hon. Friend's question.

My hon. Friend raised the issue of the growth in recent years of the number of children and young people being driven to school. Among primary school children, the number has almost doubled since the mid 1980s. In 1985–86 it was 22 per cent. In 2001–02—the last year for which I have records—it was 41 per cent. That demonstrates the scale of what we have to do. We can learn from the example that he has described to us from York.

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