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Levelling Up: Active Travel

Volume 707: debated on Monday 24 January 2022

Active travel is central to levelling up the nation’s health, air quality, social connectedness and prosperity. The Government committed £710 million of new active travel funding at the spending review and are establishing active travelling to support places. The White Paper will discuss transport’s contributions to levelling up, including of course active travel.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. He knows of course that travel accounts for nearly a third of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions, with the majority coming from petrol and diesel vehicles. In my constituency of Bath the council is working very hard to get to net zero by 2030, and active travel is a key part of that. So in the upcoming planning reforms will the Secretary of State include the 20-minute neighbourhood principle, which ensures that people can access services and goods within a 20-minute return walk?

That is a very good principle—I completely agree with it. For those who do not follow our proceedings with the same intensity as top political commentators and all the rest of it, active travel refers to walking and cycling. I completely agree with hon. Lady. What we want to do is create communities where people can walk or cycle to all the facilities and amenities that they need. That is one reason why I am such a great fan of the work of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the developments for which he has been responsible, as they embody that principle more effectively than the work of almost anyone I know.

Grassroots sports clubs and facilities are crucial to levelling up in some of the most deprived parts of Ipswich, whether it is a BMX club in Gainsborough, a boxing club in Nacton or Ipswich Vale Exiles FC: Maidenhall and Chantry. Will the Secretary of State confirm today that that is something that will be acknowledged in the White Paper and that when it comes to the second tranche of the levelling-up fund there is a possibility for it to be a grassroots clubs and facilities fund to back levelling up in such an important way?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is the case that the levelling-up fund and the community ownership fund are oriented towards ensuring that cultural and sporting activities can be supported. I should remark that just over a week ago I had the pleasure of visiting Bury where, through the community ownership fund, we could give the fan-led consortium the resources needed to take Gigg Lane back into its ownership. Only a few days later, the hon. Member for Bury South (Christian Wakeford) defected to the Labour party. Once a Shaker, always a Shaker, I was told in Bury, but there are some people who are steady on parade and there are some people who shake it all about. I think in Bury we prefer those who are steady on parade, rather than those who wobble under pressure.