Selaine Saxby MP and Trudy Harrison MP were joined on the Tarka Trail by Cllr Stuart Hughes, Cllr Pru Maskell, Dave Black, the Head of Transport and Infrastructure at Devon County Council and Sarah Leeming from Sustrans - Credit: David Hoare

North Devon MP welcomes transport minister to Tarka Trail

Joseph Bulmer

Selaine Saxby MP recently welcomed Trudy Harrison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, to North Devon to see and experience cycling the Tarka Trail.

They were joined by Cllr Stuart Hughes, Cllr Pru Maskell, Dave Black, the Head of Transport and Infrastructure at Devon County Council and Sarah Leeming from Sustrans. Traveling from Tarka Bike Hire at Barnstaple Train Station and crossing the Longbridge before heading onto Heanton Court.

Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, said: “It was great to welcome Trudy Harrison MP, Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport to North Devon. Part of her portfolio is cycling and active travel and we took the opportunity to get out on bikes on our stunning Tarka Trail.

As co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary group on Cycling and Walking, I am often the person in the room while we are discussing the many vast commitments to cycling infrastructure to highlight how policies need to vary for rural areas.”

Minister Trudy Harrison MP, said: “It was wonderful to be in North Devon to ride along a short section of the Tarka Trail. The Tarka Trail is one of the best rural cycle networks in the country. Trails like the Tarka can be a great way to introduce people to the joys of walking and cycling and I learned how the trail could be improved in my discussions with MP Selaine Saxby and local leaders.

“The Tarka Trail forms part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network, it’s a wonderful national resource and the Department for Transport is putting more funding into the Network than ever before, including £25 million last year.”

Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet member for Highway Management, said: “While we were grateful to receive Government funding recently for active travel projects, we were disappointed that the Department for Transport decided not to fund our proposals to deliver the missing link of the Tarka Trail, between Knowle and Willingcott. It's one of our active travel priorities in the county and we remain committed to achieving it. Hopefully this visit enabled the new Minister to take on board what we're looking to achieve on the Tarka Trail and other parts of our network across Devon.”

Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, added: “We do need to invest in infrastructure to enable us to decarbonise our transport and reduce our reliance on our cars and be able to enjoy active travel more, whilst recognising that it is not for everyone, and not for every journey – at present there are significant barriers in some parts of the constituency that are infrastructure related rather than just down to personal choice.

“We were all disappointed that we did not win funding for the Tarka Trail this time, but there will be more opportunities, and this meeting was a chance to show the Minister directly what we could do with more appropriate funding pots to bid into. I am also delighted that Devon County Council are once again looking at proposals to make the Longbridge a safer and easier place to cross for cyclists and pedestrians in a way that will not impact on cars or other vehicles.”