I am pleased to announce further progress on standing up Active Travel England, the new Executive agency which will help deliver this Government’s £2 billion commitment to active travel and creating a new golden age of walking and cycling.
A number of senior leadership appointments have now been made for Active Travel England. Chris Boardman MBE has been confirmed as England’s National active travel commissioner on a permanent basis. After his appointment as the interim Commissioner at the start of the year, he will continue to lead Active Travel England and chair the interim board which has now been established.
The Department expects to be able to confirm shortly the appointment of Danny Williams as Active Travel England’s chief executive, who will be starting full time in August. He will bring a wealth of experience to the role from successfully setting up and growing both large and start-up businesses and from his dedicated campaigning for improving walking and cycling provision.
Louise Wilkinson has been appointed as Active Travel England’s chief operating officer. She has a successful career in financial management for the civil service and local government and has most recently been a finance deputy director in the Cabinet Office.
The Department expects to confirm shortly the appointment of Graham Grant as its director of planning. He was until recently the assistant director of transport at Newcastle City Council.
Brian Deegan has also started as the director of inspections. He has successfully developed and delivered street designs for improving active travel in Greater Manchester and London and will work with local authorities to design high quality schemes. A small number of Department for Transport employees will also transfer to the new body.
Despite only having a handful of officers in place, Active Travel England has already started to deliver significant benefits, in line with the Gear Change commitment to deliver a step change in the quality of walking and cycling infrastructure. It has assessed and awarded £161 million of funding for 134 active travel fund projects, announced on 14 May 2022, which will deliver high-quality schemes in 46 authorities in England, outside London. This early work will enable 16 million extra cycling and walking journeys to take place each year. It has also developed a suite of tools which will help local active travel projects deliver high-quality infrastructure, and it has delivered training and engagement events for local authorities. Its work will significantly improve value for money of cycling and walking schemes.
Improved active travel provision has many benefits. It will play an important role in improving the health of the nation by reducing physical inactivity and it is vital to the Government’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Better walking and cycling provision will also help make local areas greener, healthier and better places to live.