A couple of months ago, GrowTraffic were doing a little bit of networking at our local Shout! Network Group and we were fortunately enough to hear a talk by Wendy Bell from Lancashire County Council (LCC) about the council’s Sustainable Travel Grants, which had recently become available to businesses in the East Lancashire Area. We thought ‘we could do with a bit of that’, so we applied and – guess what? We were granted a Sustainable Travel Grant! Fantastic.
What Are Sustainable Travel Grants?
This is government money from the Local Sustainable Transport Funding that has been given to LCC to enable them to provide a range of initiatives to local businesses and organisations, with the express purpose of reducing congestion on the roads and promoting more sustainable travel.
Any business in the East Lancashire area is eligible to apply for a grant of up to £5,000, which can be used to encourage employees to travel to and from work, and for other business purposes, either on foot or by bike or public transport, or even using a car sharing scheme – basically, anything that reduces car use.
The grant can be used for anything from buying a work’s bike, to building a shower block with changing facilities and lockers or even installing electric vehicle charging points, and the council are also providing free support to businesses offering sustainable travel initiatives on anything from advice on setting up a Cycle to Work Scheme to running an online Travel Survey for employees to predict engagement etc.
Unfortunately, the grants are only available until Christmas 2015 and, after this time, any remaining money will be transferred to a new geographical area. This does mean that any Lancashire business gets a fair crack at the whip, but it also means that you have to be quick if you want your business to take advantage of this brilliant offer.
Although we’re only a small business of freelancers, GrowTraffic were instantly drawn to this offer, as we had already been considering buying a shared bicycle for all staff to use during working hours for some time.
GrowTraffic don’t have any company cars and so, as it stands at the moment, anyone who doesn’t grab the one car we do have quickly – usually me! – ends up getting taxis whenever we need to go anywhere, for example to meetings or to the Post Office/bank. What’s more, as our office is in an old farmhouse on the edge of the East Lancashire moors and a couple of miles out of Bacup (the nearest village), taxi trips are not only lengthy and bad for the environment but they’re also blinking costly too!
And so we thought an office bike was the perfect solution (no dirty jokes please!), both for the environment and for our purse strings, and when we heard about the sustainable travel grants we decided it was fate.
The Application Process
During her talk, Wendy Bell had mentioned that the application process was simple and speedy but I was surprised to find out just how true that was.
After emailing Wendy and receiving the necessary paperwork by return, all I had to do was to fill in a basic form (2 sides of A4) and attach screen shots of the bike that I wanted to purchase, as proof that the cost of the bike matched the amount of money I was applying for. The whole thing took me less than 2 hours from start to finish, and that included my research time!
However, the speed of the application process was nothing compared to the speed of the approval; I received confirmation that our request had been approved before the end of the day and – even better – the money was in my bank account within a few days. I was quite literally gobsmacked!
What’s more, it wasn’t just the bike that we had been approved for, we had also been granted the funds to purchase a lockable box for the back of the bike (to carry important documents/money etc. in), a secure bike lock and a storage crate so that the bike could be safely locked up outside at night. Bonus!
Where’s Our New Bike?
Unfortunately, I haven’t been quite as speedy as the council – and that’s not something you hear very often – and, despite it being the top of my To Do list for several weeks now, I still haven’t got around to buying the brand new work’s bike. I promise that I will do this soon though and, once we have everything here, I will post some photos so that you can see just how lucky we’ve been.
Need More Info?
If you’d like to apply for a sustainable travel grant yourself, or if you would like to take advantage of the free support, then you can get further information directly from the LCC team themselves by emailing [email protected] or by phoning 01772 530 201. Alternatively, you can contact one of the team, the incredibly friendly and helpful Kamala Fairclough, directly at [email protected].
Also, I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions specifically about GrowTraffic’s grant or our cycling project; you can get in touch with me using any of the methods on our Contact Page or by emailing me directly at [email protected].