A 'CHAMPION' whose job was to encourage more action to support cyclists across Oxfordshire has resigned her post.

Suzanne Bartington, an Oxfordshire county councillor, was the area's cycling champion.

The now-vacant role meant she worked to promote cycling, giving advice to the council's cabinet, its most senior councillors, on how to improve bike facilities.

But as she announced she was resigning from the role on social media on Monday (October 19), she said it was 'seemingly impossible to enact positive change' without a proper budget or a cabinet position.

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Speaking to the Oxford Mail, Dr Bartington said: "I felt that what I would like to make happen was very difficult to do without being a cabinet member for the council.

"It is the cabinet who make decisions for the authority and I am a back bencher. It is very difficult to be the person who is the face of cycling and funding it but doesn't actually have any responsibility for decision making around transport."

Her decision to step down comes after contention around the county council approach to what has been called active travel: cycling and walking; as well as public transport like buses.

Last week, plans for two temporary bus-only lanes in central Oxford were scrapped. They were aimed at freeing up road space to speed up bus journeys, but businesses and residents were worried about the effect they would have on the city's roads.

And earlier in the summer, Oxfordshire County Council lost out on half of a bid for Government emergency cash to encourage people to cycle and walk instead of using their cars as lockdown eased.

The council later topped up the lost funding itself.

Dr Bartington said she thought there had been too much focus on these large projects, and said a 'systems approach' was needed to encourage more people to cycle instead.

She said this could include giving out fines to stop people parking in cycle lanes, removing bollards and barriers at the entrances to pathways which were not bike-friendly, and better painting on cycle paths.

Dr Bartington also said she thought there should be a cabinet member for active travel in the future, with powers to make decisions about cycling.

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She said: "In my professional life I am a consultant in public health, so I feel strongly about the benefits of sustainable and active travel."

Dr Bartington stressed that her decision to stand down was not a party political move and that she had always had support from her own Conservative party, as well as from other political groups in the council chamber and beyond.

She also said her decision to resign was not related to comments on Twitter made by her county council cabinet colleague Liam Walker, who appeared to agree with anti-cyclist sentiment on the same day as her announcement.

Mr Walker, the cabinet member for Highways Delivery and Operations said her resignation was a 'great shame' and stressed active travel was still on the agenda at the council.

Labour opposition spokesman for highways, Damian Haywood, said he sympathised with her frustrations about the role.