The new cash doesnt get injected until April next year so there are no quick fixes but as the Government is in spend, spend, spend mood its welcome to report that there are three areas where the bike trade may benefit, either directly or indirectly.
For a start, the massive boost for transport sending is good news for integrated transport solutions. Theres going to be money lavished on both carrots and sticks, to ease congestion, with the emphasis very much on carrots.
No concrete plans have so far been announced but with £6bn to play with in 2001, compared to £4.9 bn this year, and £7.4bn in 2002 and £9.1bn in 2003-4, deputy prime minister John Prescott will be able to please both motorists and non-motorists.
His forthcoming 10-year plan for transport will seek to placate the roads lobby, but railways and urban light-rail systems will be the biggest beneficiaries. Cycle links to railways will be the next big campaign goal for organisations such as Sustrans, although there may also be extra cash for Safe Routes to School projects.
There was also good news for small business owners, especially those getting wired to the internet or expanding their online operations as the funding for the small business service increases from £200m this year to £277m by 2004. As well a extra grant aid for IT equipment there will be a national internet service providing small business advice.
The extra cash for school sport could also be good news, if the industry and cycle organisations get their acts into gear. Theres going to be a slush fund of £200m to revive school sports. Some of this cash can be spent on specialist instructors and if there were such a thing as the UK Bicycle Council still only in the early discussion stage this umbrella body could lobby for school children to get specialist instruction in competitive cycling.
The extra cash for schools sport will be split between the Departments of Education and Culture. It just so happens that the Culture Secretary Chris Smith was the official ribbon cutter at the launch of the National Cycle Network in Birmingham last month.
He has close ties with Sustrans.
The £200m is five times the present Treasury funding for Sport England.
A Sport England survey recently showed a huge decline in primary school children taking physical education lessons – from 32 percent to 11 percent between 1994 and 1999. Teenagers, too, usually give up sport as soon as they leave school.
Ministers want to create sporting excellence in Britains youngsters so we dont keep on getting drubbed in major sporting events such as Euro 2000, Wimbledon and international cricket.
The new funding is to be split into two parts – a new national scheme involving professional coaches to back teachers in schools, and a new investment programme in school and community sports facilities.
Schools will be able to employ professional coaches to train and inspire schoolchildren to play sport. The BCF youth training programme Get Set (formerly Impruve) could be massivly extended were it to receive official sanction.