01:33PM, Thursday 28 June 2018
Councillors raised concerns about a lack of usage of the borough’s cycle hire and cycle hub schemes at a meeting on Monday, but Slough Borough Council (SBC) says figures have been misrepresented.
A report on the usage of the schemes, discussed by the Neighbourhoods and Community Services Scrutiny Panel, said that during the 2017/18 financial year, 126 bicycles had been used from the cycle hire service and 125 from the cycle hub service by Slough Railway Station.
Reacting to these figures at the meeting at St Martins Place, Bath Road, panel chairman Cllr Ted Plenty (Lab, Langley St Mary’s) said: “I think the take up is so low that we can’t just shrug our shoulders.
“We need to do something and the only viable thing is to put it to cabinet with the expression of concern of viability.”
Councillors agreed on the proposal to raise the issue with cabinet.
No council officers or cycle hire experts were at the meeting to go over the figures with the panel.
However, after the meeting, SBC clarified that the figure of 125 for the cycle hub scheme was meant to represent the number of members who have signed up to the scheme.
The council says the cycle hire scheme had been used 3,042 times in 2017/18 and 699 times between April and June this year.
The cycle hire service was launched in 2013 before the cycle hub service in 2015.
The operation and maintenance of both schemes has cost the Slough tax-payer nothing, as it has been provided by Groundwork under a contract, which is due for renewal in October.
Monday’s report said that Groundwork have had ‘difficulties securing sponsorship for the scheme’ and added that sponsorship is crucial for its survival, as revenue alone was never expected to fund it.
The report says Groundwork has described the ongoing operation as ‘challenging’.
A council spokeswoman said that after the contract expires, the schemes will be funded until at least 2020 using the Access Fund, a Government grant of about £1.5m secured for the council’s ‘Better by...’ sustainable transport campaign.
Efforts to increase usage have included social media campaigning, subsidised community cycling lessons, travel advice sessions for job seekers and apprentices and Free Wheel Week — offering a free week of cycling every month.
The council is also planning a scheme to provide job seekers and apprentices discounts for the cycle schemes and training to become cycle instructors and mechanics.
Visit www.cycleslough.com for information on the schemes.
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