Eastbourne, Bexhill and Newhaven Job Centres, Bike Lab Hastings and Education Futures Trust in Hastings, Seaford Head School, Denton Primary in Newhaven, Eastbourne District General Hospital (DGH), were all recipients of an Active Access for Growth (AAfG) Award.
The accolade recognises schemes set up to encourage the use of healthier, sustainable travel in growth areas with the help of £1.1m funding secured from the Department for Transport by East Sussex County Council’s to deliver the AAfG programme.
Winning initiatives included the closure of roads outside schools during drop off and pick up to improve air quality, bike maintenance and riding courses and the production of Active Travel maps which give sustainable transport information for an area.
Cllr Nick Bennett, the county council’s deputy leader who attended a celebration event at Eastbourne Town Hall, said: “These are fantastic initiatives which boost physical activity and support local economic growth in Newhaven, Eastbourne, south Wealden and Bexhill and Hastings.”
As well as praising individual projects, an event at Eastbourne Town Hall celebrated the achievements of the AAfG scheme which launched in 2017 and is delivered by a county council commissioned partnership led by Sustrans.
Cllr Bennett added: “With funds secured from the Department of Transport, we have been able to work with more than 100 workplaces, more than 50 schools, four job centres, community groups and Universities and colleges across East Sussex to promote greener, healthier travel which helps to reduce congestion and improve air quality.
“The scheme has had a positive impact on communities, with those taking part saying they feel much more confident travelling to work or school on foot, by bike or on public transport.”
Figures show cycling levels among surveyed participants had tripled in 2018/19, cycling to school had increased from less than one per cent to more than three per cent in participating schools and CO2 from car trips has reduced by more than 43 tonnes since the programme started.
James Cleeton, England Director South at Sustrans, said: “It has been a pleasure for Sustrans to manage the Active Access for Growth programme and to witness the progress that is being made by our partners across East Sussex. There has been real enthusiasm among organisations in the area to embrace active travel and to help employees, school children and communities to start making transport choices that can help improve their health, minimise their impact on the environment and improve air quality for everyone.
“The variety in these award winners shows that there are many avenues into increasing active travel, and that one size does not fit all. It’s important to offer a range of options for people and to find out what inspires them. For some that might mean building confidence with bike maintenance, for others it could be raising awareness of the impact of travel choices on the environment around them. Congratulations to everyone involved – you’ve done a brilliant job”
Eastbourne District General Hospital appointed an Active Travel Officer who was able to link 332 staff with the Active Travel programme. The hospital also worked closely with Living Streets to produce an Active Travel map to be used by staff and visitors.
Seaford Head School launched a campaign allowing groups to work together to encourage their classmates to travel to school in a sustainable way. The school also produced an Active Travel map which they promoted to local primary schools and worked with Sustrans to help students learn about bike maintenance.
Denton Primary School, Newhaven worked with Sustrans on its air quality project leading to the first ever School Street programme in East Sussex earlier this year. With the support of East Sussex Highways, children and staff were able to close the street during drop off and pick up time, reclaiming it as a space for the whole community to use, making a significant difference to local air quality.
Bexhill, Eastbourne and Newhaven Job Centres linked up with Sussex Community Rail, Living Streets and Sustrans to organise staff training and cycling sessions. Bexhill job centre organised a wellbeing day with more planned at other job centres, and Newhaven Jobseeker programme also benefitted from a close working relationship between Sustrans and the Sussex Community Development Association Work and Health Programme.
Education Futures Trust, Hastings applied for AAfG funding to provide a cycling and bike maintenance course for young people who attend alternative education provision outside of mainstream schools. The young people who have been excluded, at risk of exclusion or who have behavioural difficulties were able to access cheaper and healthier ways to travel to participate in education, employment and training. Education Future staff also worked in partnership with Bike Lab Hastings to access training in bike maintenance.
Bike Lab Hastings, a volunteer-run weekly community bicycle workshop used AAfG funding to open their workshop on Sundays throughout the summer and autumn of 2018. This allowed them to help almost 100 new clients, who can’t afford to go to a bike shop to fix, build and maintain their bikes, and process and repair over 100 donated bicycles.
Guidance on accessing funding for a project/organisation, including funding guides and a database of available grants, can be found at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/community/funding