[Updated 21 January 2019 with new section: the new Liberal Democrat administration has continued to charge residents for cycle training, and proposes to increase the fees by 5% in 2019/20]
Buried deep in the papers for this Tuesday’s Scrutiny Committee of Richmond Council (30 January 2018), there’s a document with proposed fees and charges for 2018/19 by Richmond’s Environment & Community Services Directorate. Its innocuous title is “paper vii, Appendix E ECSD Attachment 3)”. And, on page 59 of the 61 pages of this final appendix of the papers going in front of the Scrutiny Committee, is a table setting out Richmond Council’s proposed charges in 2018/19 for cycle training:
Every council in London receives Local Implementation Plan (LIP) funds from Transport for London (TfL) for implementing the Mayor of London’s transport strategy. Since the Mayoralty was created, every mayor’s transport strategy has included cycling and, through TfL, every borough has received funds to help train its residents.
- Richmond requested £80,000 of LIP funds for cycle training in 2017/18 (source: LIP17/18 submission, in papers for Cabinet on 8 September 2016).
- Richmond requested £80,000 of LIP funds for cycle training in 2018/19 (source: LIP18/19 Submission, in papers for Cabinet on 16 November 2017).
Even with LIP funds for capital projects being squeezed in 2018/19, the settlements that I’ve seen so far for several boroughs show that money for cycle training has not been cut.
Richmond Council is the only council in London to charge its residents and, it appears, schools for this training. (The training is free to the children themselves). The costs are still heavily subsidised, and are free for adults receiving benefits, but Richmond is the only council asking its residents to contribute. The table below links every London borough’s cycle training offer – every one of them, except Richmond, is free. (Hammersmith & Fulham ask adults for a £5 booking fee to discourage no-shows, and this is refunded on completion of the course).
Richmond Council’s charges have existed for at least two years:
- The charge per child was increased to £4.20 from £4.00 in 2017/18, and adults remained at £10 (source, page 97 of Environment Depts charges, in papers for Scrutiny Committee on 21 February 2017);
- The £4.00 charge per child appears to have been introduced in 2016/17, and the charge for adults was reduced from £22/£31 (depending on course) to the current £10 (source, page 126 of the Environment Charges, in papers for Scrutiny Committee on 1 February 2016).
Richmond Council’s charges are modest, and the true costs are being subsidised. But by making this charge, Richmond has created a hurdle to cross for people wanting to learn to cycle safely and confidently. Every other London borough chooses not to do so.
I’m left with a couple of questions:
Q1. Why does Richmond Council pass some of the cost of cycle training onto its residents and schools, when no other borough in London does so?
Q2. With Richmond Council and Wandsworth Council now integrating their administrations to reduce costs, should the residents and schools of Wandsworth also expect to be charged for cycle training in the future? Why would the combined staffing service charge the people of one borough and not the other for the same service?
Response from Cllr Jean Loveland of Richmond Council, 29 January 2018
Thank you to Cllr Jean Loveland (Conservative, and before the 2018 elections, the council’s Lead Scrutiny Member for the Environment) who has provided a response via the co-ordinator of the Richmond Cycling Campaign. The key points are:
We [Richmond Council] make a small charge of £10 per adult 1-2-1 session to ensure attendance. Our Training figures are currently comparable to when we offered free training, extra courses and a whole host of bicycle promotion activities in times of a better economic situation.
Sadly we had countless occasions where no shows and late cancellations would end up costing the tax payer over £200 in rebooking and cancellations and sometimes never actually happening. Since applying the £10 charge (the actual cost of the session is just over £50) we do not have the same trouble with cancellations and no shows. Of course, where we are contacted with individual circumstances meaning the £10 charge is not feasible we bypass that.
Of course our child cycle training is offered free within the schools.
As a borough we take the health of our residents seriously and this has been shown in a variety of surveys where we have a very active population.
It explains why Richmond Council is levying the charges, to which I’ll add two observations:
(i) to discourage no-shows, Hammersmith & Fulham charge a booking fee of £5 – half of Richmond’s – and then refund it when the training course has been completed;
(ii) child cycle training is free to children, but it isn’t clear to me whether schools are charged the £4.20 administration fee.
UPDATE: 21 January 2019
Since I wrote the blogpost in last year, the Liberal Democrats have taken over Richmond Council from the previous Conservative administration.
The papers for the Housing, Community Safety & Environment Ctte on 28 January 2019 have the council’s proposed fees and charges for 2019/20. On PDF page 68 (numbered 69) are the proposed charges for cycle training – they are going up by 5%.
Cycle training links for London boroughs as at January 2018
|Borough||Political control||Cycle training info||Cost Adults||Cost Children|
|Barking and Dagenham||Labour||Web link 1||Free||Free|
|Bromley||Conservative||Web link 1||Free||Free|
|City of London||NA||Web link||Free||Free|
|Ealing||Labour||Web link 1||Free||Free|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||Labour||Web link||£5 booking fee refunded||Free|
|Havering||Conservative / RA||Web link||Free||Free|
|Kensington and Chelsea||Conservative||Web link||Free||Free|
|Kingston upon Thames||Conservative||Web link||Free
(see note re instructor training below)
|Richmond upon Thames||Conservative||Web link||£10||£4.20 rising to £4.30|
|Sutton||Liberal Democrat||Web link||Free||Free|
|Tower Hamlets||Labour Mayor / Labour (council NOC) Executive||Web link||Free||Free|
|Waltham Forest||Labour||Web link||Free||Free|
Additionally, Kingston is the only borough that offers instructor training too at what looks like a subsidised cost.