SUSTAINABLE cycling firms set up to return people to the saddle have crashed and could fold.

Funding has run out and the firms are not self sufficient, meaning Southend is set to lose them.

The ReCycle Centre in Eastwood has taken in more than 5,000 bikes and transformed them.

The firm, along with the Comfy Saddle centre based in Southend Central Station, is owned and managed by the Sustainable Motion community interest company.

Southend Council set it up. The council has just revealed a transport strategy which is designed to get more people cycling, but the council has declined a funding bid.

Councillor Andrew Moring, cabinet member for infrastructure, said: “It was always the intention it would grow into a self-sustaining business, though unfortunately this has not happened.

“Its contract has now come to an end and so we recently went back out to market for the services they provide. Sustainable Motion (CIC) was unsuccessful in its bid to continue providing this service, due largely to it being unable to demonstrate sound financial management. Unfortunately, no other service provider submitted a bid to provide it. Therefore under government procurement rules it was not possible to award the contract.

“The council is actively looking at alternative ways of providing some of the services through the South Essex Active Transport including the future delivery of cycle hub services across this area.”

Southend Council has won £2.5million of funding, however Richard Twomey, managing director of Sustainable Motion, revealed the tender was withdrawn by the council amid claims the organisation did not have the financial capacity to run the centres.

Winning the tender would have secured the future of the Southend centres but unless an organisation can be found to provide a cash injection for the scheme it will fold. The Comfy Saddle which provided a bike maintenance service is already being wound up.

Independen Councillor Stephen Aylen said: “It doesn’t make any sense. It was set up by Southend Council to get people on bikes and get them fitter. Bikes are expensive but this centre takes bikes that people throw away, cleans and services them and makes sure they are safe before selling them on. It was an absolutely excellent service.

Mr Twomey, said: “A massive amount of effort, dedication and hard work as gone into making the ReCycle Centre and Comfy Saddle a success in Southend.

“Often carried out by volunteers, it is with regret that the future is now so uncertain. The staff have been informed and I am providing them with as much support as possible.”

Mr Twomey added: “I am currently exploring every possible idea to retain the ReCycle Centre within the borough.”