Cupar travel advice scheme criticised

The 'Try It Cupar' team.
The 'Try It Cupar' team.
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FIFE Council has defended itself against criticism of a scheme aimed at cutting car journeys in Cupar.

There has been a backlash in the town against the Try It Cupar campaign, launched in the same week the local authority announced swingeing cuts to jobs and services.

Under the initiative travel advisers will be visiting households in Cupar encouraging people to walk, cycle or use public transport when making trips within the town.

But the council says funding for the environmental scheme has come solely from the UK government as part of efforts to get young people back into work.

Alistair Clyne, Fife Council’s policy and strategy team leader, said the scheme would not use money that could have been spent avoiding service cuts such as the reduction in opening hours at Cupar’s recycling centre.

He told the Fife Herald: “While I can appreciate residents have associated this with the budget process of last week, essentially this is not costing the council anything.

“It’s being funded through the government’s Future Jobs Fund, which gives people the chance to experience work.

“The travel advisers have been trained up ahead of this, and it’s being done as part of the Bonnygate air quality management plan with the aim of improving air quality in the town.”

Mr Clyne said that as far as he is aware all costs, including leafleting and uniforms for the travel advisers, are being met by the government.

Fife Council was awarded cash from the Future Jobs Fund at the end of 2009 after vowing it would create 238 new jobs.

The initiative — aimed at out-of-work 18 to 24 year olds — has since been shelved as the Treasury seeks to save billions of pounds.

However, one Cupar pensioner, who did not wish to be named, branded the Try It Cupar scheme “plain stupid”.

He said: “I thought Fife Council had no money.

“Are these people going to come up to where I stay in Newtown and tell me how to walk down the street?

“I’ve been speaking to people about it and they can’t believe it — it’s just plain stupid when they’re cutting all these services.”

Try It Cupar kicked off last week, and every household in Cupar can expect to receive a visit from a travel adviser.

They will be encouraging residents to leave the car at home in a bid to improve air quality in the Bonnygate — one of Scotland’s most polluted streets.

Councillor Andrew Arbuckle, chair of Fife Council’s north east area committee, said: “This is a great opportunity for the residents of Cupar to discuss what travel options might suit their needs and make travelling a more enjoyable experience.

“I hope that lots of people will be keen to get involved and help improve Cupar’s air quality in any way they can.”

A visit from a travel adviser can be arranged by calling 01334 659395 or e-mailing travel.plan@fife.gov.uk