Sent to The Editor, Hexham Courant, in response to the reporting of the Hexham Town Council meeting where Sustrans and the County Council presented the following documents:
Cycling Tynedale, a local community support group, is delighted that Hexham has been selected as one of the hub towns for walking and cycling development. We fully support the core goal of an environment where children can walk and cycle safely. However, this benefits all ages. We are at the beginning of a major shift in emphasis from the NHS to health prevention and with this more active lifestyles. 93% of us have a reversible risk factor for dementia, something an upcoming national programme will be addressing. These same risk factors also increase the rates of many severe diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
A common concern is that favouring the pedestrian will negatively impact shopping. There is in fact robust evidence that the opposite happens. Visitor levels and spend goes up. Furthermore, OECD work clearly states that for economic development, excellent walking and cycling infrastructure is increasingly a core requirement.
North East politics has occasionally had an unfortunate reputation for destructive infighting. Ultimately it is the local population who suffer. We feel that the cohesive and long term plans of the County Council group, working with Sustrans, the national leaders in this area, Northumberland Tourism, the NHS and the National Park Authority, should be commended and supported by all.
Cycling Tynedale Committee