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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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Government rejects bid for Lakes cycle 'hub' cash

Tourism leaders’ hopes of transforming Cumbria into a world-class cycling hub have been dealt a blow after they lost out in a Government funding bid.

The Cycle Lakes proposal, which would have seen a cycle route built from Keswick to Newby Bridge, complete with bike-carrying bus and boat services, has lost out to other areas.

The application, for a slice of a £17 million funding pot, has been turned down in favour of schemes in the Peak District, New Forest, South Downs and Dartmoor national parks.

Richard Greenwood, Cumbria Tourism’s head of policy and research, added that staff at the tourist body were ‘obviously disappointed’ with the news.

Alistair Kirkbride, sustainable transport advisor at the Lake District National Park Athority (LDNPA), who joint managed the bid, said it would have built on the GoLakes travel programme launched last year and put the Lakes on the world stage as “a brilliant area for recreation cycling”.

“It is frustrating that we did not get the money,” he said. “It would have benefited walkers and those with pushchairs too, not just bikers.”

But Mr Kirkbride said there were still positives to come from the experience.

“We are now in a really good position to carry on with a lot of the planned schemes, and will try to find other sources of funding,” he said. “And all sorts of people have now approached us to say they are interested in talking about different ideas, so the bid has shone the light on to the possibilities of what can be done.”

The county council’s cycling officer Mark Brierley, who managed the submission with Mr Kirkbride, said: “We are still waiting for formal feedback from the Department of Transport, and there have been hints that they could announce more funding in the near future.

“We will continue to work on the proposals ready for that window of opportunity.”

News of the knockback comes as the county prepares for a month of cycling events, with the Tour of Britain passing through Cumbria next month and the Jennings Rivers Ride.

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