AMBITIOUS plans to extend Carlisle’s cycle routes to the east of the city have been announced, with a funding bid due to be submitted at the start of next month.

The city council is seeking European Regional Development Fund (EDRF) cash to support the project, though it is still unclear at this stage who would be responsible for maintaining any additions to the network.

County council leader Stewart Young argued that improvements to cycling provision were part of the top tier authority’s remit and asked why the district council was involving itself in this.

“They don’t put bids through for road schemes, do they?” he said.

But responding to Mr Young’s comments, officers said that most of the routes proposed were on city council land and the district authority was entitled to create one if they wished.

Gareth Ellis, deputy leader of the city council as well as a county councillor, defended his executive’s decision to develop the project.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the county council’s local committee for Carlisle, he said: “The biggest cost of having two councils isn’t the duplication and the extra councillors; it is the lost opportunities, where councils would fight each other on and not cooperate on ways that can help the common area.

“The ERVF bid is going to be submitted on August 1, so if we haven’t come to an agreement than the bid might not go ahead.

“It would be a shame if this becomes one of many things this city loses out on because we can’t, as different organisations, agree on our responsibilities and trying to push things forward. It would be a massive shame if we lost out.”

Ultimately, the county council could be asked to adopt an extension to the cycle route but that would have to go through the local committee.

It is understood that any funding received would be concentrated on the east of the city.

Nick Marriner, county and district councillor for Wetheral, said: “There is not one cycle route east of Carlisle and I think it’s a disgrace because it is time something was done about it.

“We have got the Borderlands project coming up, the Southern Link Road where there is money for these things.

“I think there are more people in the east of Carlisle district than the west. While the west is well provided with cycle routes there is still not one on the east.”

Coun Young stressed that he wasn’t opposed to working with the city council on the cycling strategy but added: “This feels opportunistic without any thought to who is going to maintain it and we have to do better than that.”

But his fellow Labour councillor Alan McGuckin backed the Conservative-led city council’s plans.

He said: “We don’t want to be having an argument with the city council on something like this. It is to the benefit of both that we have an integrated agreed strategy for cycling, one of which should be an eastern route.

“If you think cycling along the A69 is a fun experience than, it’s not. We have got to be aspirational.”