Doncaster MP compares city to “ghost town” following unveiling of new cycle routes

A Doncaster MP claimed that transport planning decisions have turned the city into a “ghost town” in Parliament this week.
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On Thursday (14 September), Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher spoke in Parliament to criticise the increase of running and cycling lanes, known as active travel routes, in Doncaster city centre.

It comes after Doncaster Council and the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) unveiled new active travel routes in the city centre earlier this week.

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The £1.6 million project provided over 800 metres of cycle lanes, linking South Parade with areas such as Bennetthorpe and Hall Gate.

Nick Fletcher MP.Nick Fletcher MP.
Nick Fletcher MP.

Speaking during Parliament proceedings, Nick Fletcher MP criticised the decision:

“Active travel is an important policy for this government. Cycle paths are one part of that programme. However, when cycle paths are designed poorly, as is the case in Doncaster, they can be detrimental to the town and to the city.

“Can we have a debate on disastrous town planning and what can be done to reverse this trend before cities like Doncaster become ghost towns?”

Leader of the House, Penny Mordaunt MP, responded:

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“Government is committed to [ensuring] that by 2030, half of all journeys in towns and cities are walked or cycled and enable more choice about how people get around.

“That’s good for them, that’s good for the environment, and we have invested over 600 million into active travel since 2020, which is a record amount of funding, with further investment coming this financial year.

“But, of course, that’s only a good thing if local authorities are spending that money well and things are being designed well.”

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones has previously shared that new active travel routes in the borough have been largely funded by central government, in line with its sustainability aims.

She stated previously:

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“Virtually all government transport funds and even the majority of regeneration funds have criteria that stipulate they must support a ‘modal shift’, from cars to Active Travel and Public Transport. These funds include Levelling Up Fund, City Region Sustainable Transport Fund and Transforming Cities Fund to name but a few.

“Government Funding for highways repairs in Doncaster are £5million per year (the same as it was in 2010), whereas we currently receive roughly £15million per year from Government for ‘Active Travel’ including walking & cycling.”

Mr Fletcher has been consistently critical of urban planning methods such as active travel routes.

Sharing his speech on Twitter, he added:

“Cycle paths, pedestrianisation and poor bus planning are slowly choking our wonderful city centre. Only a Labour council would mess up what should be a great addition to the way our community enjoys getting about for work or pleasure.”

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Earlier this year, Mr Fletcher’s criticisms were distributed widely online after he claimed “the international concept of 15-minute cities” was “taking away our personal freedom”.

15-minute cities are a planning concept aimed at making major cities entirely accessible through active travel or public transport.

The concept has received fringe backlash online, with the circulation of a conspiracy theory website claiming that councils in Oxford would “lock residents in one of six zones”.