CYCLISTS have criticised the use of ‘sustainable’ transport funds to help finance the repaving of Worthing’s busiest shopping street.
Montague Street’s multi-tone, cracked and Tarmac-ridden paving will be revitalised in a bid to attract higher-end shops and increase visitors.
But local cyclists have questioned the allocation of £800,000 to fund the first phase of the scheme – from Coast to Capital’s sustainability schemes pot.
John Coote, of Sustrans and the West Sussex Cycle Forum, said: “Worthing desperately needs investment in sustainable transport and the local transport board has considerable sums of money but the Montague Street scheme is essentially economic regeneration.”
Mr Coote highlighted the potential extension of the coastal cycle route through Goring and Ferring as a more suitable sustainable project.
While the new scheme aims to attract an additional 1.6 million each year to Montague Street, Mr Coote says West Sussex County Council, which will manage the project, has not researched how the additional people will travel to the town centre.
He said: “In terms of regeneration of the town centre, if it attracts people to stay in the town centre and shop locally that is all to the good but that is not the basis of the case.
“Regeneration is great but using sustainable transport money without knowing the implications of all the extra journeys just looks counter-productive.”
Responding to the claims, Worthing Pier county councillor Michael Cloake said he was ‘flabbergasted’ a small group were attempting to derail a key project.
He said: “What could be more sustainable than a thriving and sustainable economy where people can live and work without having to commute vast distances?
“It’s really good news and I am flabbergasted that we have a small section of people in Worthing who want to scupper all the hard and good work that is going into reinvigorating the town.
“I understand they want more cycle routes but this is not the argument to have. It’s a fantastic deal for Worthing and will put the town on the map and to argue over these little amounts absolutely flabbergasts me.”
Mr Cloake said the seafront cycle route project was ‘mired’ with problems, with no support from residents or local councillors.
A sample of the new paving can now be viewed outside H&M, after a special test bed was installed by the county council.
The first phase of the scheme will begin next year.