A MAJOR scheme to turn Otley into a cycling-friendly town has been approved by councillors.

The Town Council has put aside £15,000 for CycleVision2030 as part of its budget for the coming year. It describes the initiative as ‘a long-term project to increase the ability to cycle safely in Otley using segregated facilities where possible’.

Councillors agreed to set the 2019-20 budget at £492,145 - slightly less than the £495,408 of last year - when they met this week. It will be funded by a precept of £435,788 which represents a £1.97 a year increase, taking the charge to £87.10, for Band D households.

The budget proved uncontroversial and was backed by every councillor present apart from Councillor Nigel Francis (Ind, Danefield), who abstained.

Council Chair Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) said: “For a Band D property it represents a 16p per month increase for which we will deliver all the pre-existing commitments and new community projects.”

He said CycleVision2030 - which could see cycle lanes introduced in parts of town - was ‘a long-term project to increase the ability to cycle safely’.

He added: “It will start with a vision document and outline action plan to show how we can radically transform the way short journeys for school, work, shopping and play are made, changing the emphasis away from the car.

“We can learn lessons from nations like the Netherlands in terms of segregated cycle routes, slowing down cars in town centres, and the reform of parking arrangements.

“Our own starting point will be to produce a project brief, continue the discussions I have had with the Dutch Embassy about accessing specialist planning expertise, and create a project team that will include Leeds Highways.

“The main outcome will be a Vision 2030 document outlining what can be done in Otley, cost estimates and an outline plan for which we can try and seek funding.”

The budget also allocates £23,000 to the Consolidated Community Fund and keeps a £40,000 ‘pot’ in Reserves for the Investing in Otley Fund. Another £10,.000 has been set aside to pay for publishing, and holding a referendum on, Otley Neighbourhood Plan.