The £5m Smarter Travel Sutton scheme has failed to reduce traffic congestion over the past two years, it has emerged.

The three-year partnership between Sutton Council and Transport for London (TfL) promoted sustainable transport to 75,000 householders.

At a board meeting last week TfL praised the “behavioural change” scheme for encouraging more Sutton residents to cycle, walk and use public transport.

But the organisation admitted road traffic levels were cut by only one per cent, in line with other outer London boroughs.

Ben Plowden, Smarter Travel director, said: “Therefore the growth in the use of sustainable modes has not yet translated into a direct impact on traffic levels across the borough.”

Officials visited homes across Sutton and 13,000 workers to help them plan their daily journeys without using cars.

The number of cycle trips in Sutton did rise by 50 per cent and bike theft dropped by 17 per cent after the introduction of 200 secure cycle parking spaces.

There was also a significant increase in bus use, but this was almost matched by neighbouring Croydon, which did not benefit from targeted marketing.

Councillor Colin Hall, deputy leader of Sutton Council, said: “Smarter Travel Sutton is about showing people alternatives to the car and giving them incentives, instead of penalties, to change the way they travel.

“It’s all carrot and no stick. By working with residents, schools and businesses we are seeing real change in the way people travel in Sutton and major health benefits too.”

Councillor Tim Crowley, the Conservative transport spokesman, said: “With conflicting accounts of success from TfL and the council, it seems the jury is still out on the scheme’s real impact. It’s expensive and we hope taxpayers’ money has been spent wisely.