Active Travel England may not survive the new Tory government, says Boris Johnson’s transport adviser

Boris Johnson’s transport adviser Andrew Gilligan has raised concerns that Liz Truss’ administration could scrap the new government agency Active Travel England.

Gilligan left his post as transport adviser at 10 Downing Street after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was sacked earlier this summer. Active Travel England was primarily Gilligan’s work. The agency has a budget of $2.2 billion.

“I really hope so [Active Travel England] survives the arrival of a new government,” Gilligan told a fringe meeting yesterday at the Tory party conference in Birmingham, “but I’m hearing slightly worrying things that it may not happen.”

Gilligan was one of the speakers at the Policy Exchange meeting. Another was Lucy Frazer, the South East Cambridgeshire MP and Transport Minister.

Chair Josh Buckland, senior fellow at Policy Exchange, asked Frazer if “cycling is still alive and kicking now that the Boris Johnson administration has gone?”

Fraser replied: “Absolutely, yes. We created Active Travel England [and we are] devoted to it [$2.2 billion] in terms of active travel’.

Despite the minister’s support for the new body, it risks being one of the casualties of the expected cuts in government spending to be announced later this month by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.

Yesterday morning, the chancellor made a U-turn on scrapping the 45pc tax rate, a policy widely seen as having led to a fall in the value of the pound against the dollar and also raised interest rates on government borrowing.

In a bid to balance the government’s accounts, a real-terms cut in benefit payments is among other cost-saving measures expected to be announced by the Truss administration, a policy opposed by many Tory MPs.

While Active Travel England may not be abolished, its budget could be cut, campaigners fear.

In 2010 the UK government at the time—a Tory-LibDem coalition—restricted public spending by abolishing many quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations, or quangos. This was characterized in the national press as a ‘quango fire’—one of the quangos axed was Cycling England, a similar body to Active Travel England.

The Government has announced that Baroness Vere of Norbiton is taking over active travel responsibilities at the Department for Transport.

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