MP calls for World Heritage cycle route

A cycleway which could link Belper to Derby and provide a boost for tourism and shops is being proposed by the town’s MP.

Pauline Latham urged the Government to consider the idea during a “Get Britain Cycling” debate in the House of Commons.

Funding is already being directed towards a cycle route through the Peak District National Park.

However, Mrs Latham said there would be great benefits in extending that track from Matlock, through the Derwent Valley and Belper and into the city.

Around £77million is being spent across the country as part of the plans, led by an allparty parliamentary group.

She told MPs: “The added value of providing a safe cycleway from the Derwent Valley into Derby is that it would also serve the needs of numerous commuters living in the towns and villages in the valley, especially Belper, Milford, Duffield, Little Eaton, Allestree and Darley Abbey.

“It would provide a safe, healthy, carbon-free alternative mode of transport that would reduce congestion and pollution. The benefits of such expenditure to leisure users and city communities is self-evident, and I therefore ask the Minister to consider adding to the current proposals for cycleways in national parks and to fund an extension of the cycle route from Matlock.”

Around 100 MPs attended the four hour long Parliamentary debate on cycling – the best ever attended on the issue in living memory.

Mrs Latham used Belper’s heritage to strengthen her case for a local cycleway.

She continued: “My constituency lies across the Derwent Valley Mills world heritage site, the cradle of the industrial revolution which kick-started modern economies, the development of technology and, ultimately, globalisation.

“However, it is still not possible for a family to cycle safely across the heritage site from one historic site to the next.”

Tourists exploring the town’s landmarks on their bikes could also help provide a boom in sales of locally made goods, according to Mrs Latham.

She added: “The tourism business that could be generated by attracting people throughout the world to share the interpretation of the world’s industrial heritage should not be underestimated.

“Germany, Austria and Italy have already harnessed the potential of attracting cycle tourists to increase their tourism income, which has the benefit of being spent mostly in local villages and towns, either in the small-scale catering industry or on buying regional products, thereby supporting local growth in jobs and the economy. We are trying to do that in Belper, particularly through the sale of local food and local products.”