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Cornwall Council to review “disaster” cycle paths scheme

The project, described as an “unmitigated disaster” by local councillors, was dramatically scaled back after failing to secure land and running over budget

Cornwall Council has confirmed that it has commissioned an internal and external review of a failed cycle paths project in the county, which has been described by councillors as an “unmitigated disaster”.

The Saints Trail project aimed to create four new off-road and on-road bike trails, covering 30 kilometres in total and crossing public and private land, to enable “safe journeys for commuters, families and visitors” in Cornwall. 

However, the £19 million scheme, funded mainly through government grants, has been dramatically scaled back after failing to secure the land necessary to complete the trails, with three of the four routes either altered or completely axed.

> Cycling UK unveils new 150-mile off-road route for Cornwall

According to Cornwall Live, in January 2021 the council’s audit committee was told that the project was set to come in £6 million over budget and was unlikely to be delivered on time.

Despite council director Phil Mason’s assurances that the scheme would still go ahead as planned, budget, time and land constraints continued to dog the project, with further cuts made throughout the last year and a half.

In response, Cornwall councillors have called for a full investigation into the failures behind the scheme, with some calling for a “warts and all” report as part of a broader re-evaluation of the working culture within the council.

On Friday, it was confirmed by the chair of the audit committee Armaud Toms that two reviews will take place, the full findings of which are expected to be published in November.

Two of the routes, Perranporth to Goonhavern and St Agnes to Threemilestone, are still scheduled to be completed in the next year.

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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