Concern ‘vital safety skills’ may be lost as future of Havering’s cycle instructors in doubt

Transport for London said it has paused funding for cycling training while it negotiates a new deal with the government

Transport for London said it has paused funding for cycling training while it negotiates a new deal with the government - Credit: Paul Smailes

Havering cycling instructors face an uncertain future as the council investigates ways of replacing funding axed by Transport for London (TfL). 

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which represents cycling instructors, recently revealed TfL's decision to roll back the funding previously allocated to local councils to pay for cycling training.

The news broke amid record-breaking temperatures across the UK, with chair of the IWGB’s cycling instructor’s branch Suami Rocha saying TfL and the mayor of London were “pouring fuel on the fire of climate change” by cutting training which promotes active and sustainable travel. 

A TfL spokesperson said the decision was made because its last funding deal with the government ended on June 24, and cycling training was one area that had to be paused until further investment is secured. 

The move, however, has put the futures of hundreds of London cycling instructors in doubt, with the onus now on local councils to fill the financial gap. 

The IWGB’s cycling instructor’s branch, Suami Rocha

Cycling lessons teach ‘vital safety skills', Paul said - Credit: Paul Smailes

Cllr Ray Morgon, leader of Havering Council, said the local authority is in talks with the organisation which runs its cycle training programmes, while also “looking into what other funding opportunities may be available to support these programmes during this time”. 

Hornchurch-based Paul Smailes, 48, is one of the borough’s cycling instructors concerned about his job security. 

He said over the past five years, local instructors had taught thousands of children how to ride, in addition to other “vital safety skills”. 

Paul added the borough's lack of cyclists "will get worse, and pollution and traffic will increase [due to] the missed generation, lack of investment in anything cycling and cuts from government". 

Hornchurch-based cycling instructor, Paul Smailes

Hornchurch-based cycling instructor, Paul Smailes - Credit: Paul Smailes

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The current emergency funding deal between TfL and the government was recently extended to August 3, as a long-term proposal is considered by the transport authority. 

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has previously said the government is “committed to supporting London’s transport network” and “in discussions with TfL on a longer-term settlement”. 

On Twitter, he said: “At the request of TfL, I’ve granted one final extension to August 3. 

“After two years and over £5 billion of funding, I know the settlement offered supports London’s transport network and offers value for money for taxpayers. 

“It’s now up to the mayor to put London first and accept.”