Richmond: the only council in London charging for cycle training

[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:

richmondtraining#1

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.

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:

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%.

richmondcycletraining2019-20charges

 

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

Web link 2

Free Free
Barnet Conservative Web link Free Free
Bexley Conservative Web link Free Free
Brent Labour Web link Free Free
Bromley Conservative Web link 1

Web link 2

Free Free
Camden Labour Web link Free Free
City of London NA Web link Free Free
Croydon Labour Web link Free Free
Ealing Labour Web link 1

Web link 2

Free Free
Enfield Labour Web link Free Free
Greenwich Labour Web link Free Free
Hackney Labour Web link Free Free
Hammersmith and Fulham Labour Web link £5 booking fee refunded Free
Haringey Labour Web link Free Free
Harrow Labour Web link Free Free
Havering Conservative / RA Web link Free Free
Hillingdon Conservative Web link Free Free
Hounslow Labour Web link Free Free
Islington Labour 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)

Free
Lambeth Labour Web link Free Free
Lewisham Labour Web link Free Free
Merton Labour Web link Free Free
Newham Labour Web link Free Free
Redbridge Labour Web link Free Free
Richmond upon Thames Conservative Web link £10 £4.20 rising to £4.30
Southwark Labour Web link Free Free
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
Wandsworth Conservative Web link Free Free
Westminster Conservative Web link Free Free

Additionally, Kingston is the only borough that offers instructor training too at what looks like a subsidised cost.

 

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