Cambridge congestion charge plans shelved
Lack of local support
Cambridgeshire County Council has shelved plans for congestion charging following a lack of local support.
The council had said it wanted to cut traffic levels in the city by 10 per cent and submitted a bid for £500m of the government's Transport Innovation Fund (TIF). Its bid included proposals for peak period congestion charging in and around Cambridge, along with subsidising bus fares, a new railway station, park-and-ride facilities and an extensive network of cycle paths.
Cambridgeshire has now withdrawn its plans and gone "back to the drawing board", despite a growing problem of congestion in and around the city of Cambridge.
Councillor Jill Tuck, the new Conservative leader of the council, said: "We have listened carefully over the last few months and it is clear that the Transport Innovation Fund scheme we put forward for consultation last Autumn does not have sufficient support either from other key organisations or the public and needs, at the very least, refinement."
A new transport commission, made up of key public and private sector organisations, will be created to come up with recommendations for a new transport strategy for the Cambridge area.
Invitations to join the commission were sent this week to organisations including Cambridgeshire's city and district councils, Addenbrooke's Hospital, local police, the university, bus operator Stagecoach, the chamber of commerce and trade, the Federation of Small Businesses and business organisation the Greater Cambridge Partnership.
"The government's Transport Innovation Fund does give us a unique opportunity to attract substantial funding for transport improvements," said Tuck. "The £500m we have requested is way in excess of anything we could ever raise locally, but such a huge cash injection does have to be accompanied by a congestion charging scheme.
"It will be for the commission to determine what is best for Cambridge but any scheme must have support from key public and private organisations and also the public."
The TIF aims to deliver £2.5bn by 2015 to support innovative local transport projects. Schemes are expected to combine road managing measures, such as congestion charging, with improvements in public transport.
So far Manchester is the only city to have won its TIF bid. The city could get £3bn to support innovations, including a peak time pricing regime to cut road congestion.
A spokesperson for environmental group Friends of the Earth expressed concerns about Cambridgeshire's decision.
"Climate change is the biggest threat to the planet and congestion charging can play an important role in tackling climate change," he told GC News. "Traffic levels have risen considerably under Labour, despite the fact that they promised to cut them when they came into power."
This article was originally published at Kablenet.
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You've all got it wrong. There will indeed be a congestion charge.
It really hasn't been shelved. The County knows that it needs the money, and that there is no other way of getting it. This shelving, as reported, is just a proposal. Nothing more.
Democracy? We've exported it all, apparently...
The Cambridgeshire MisGuided Bus is a wonderful example of arse-about-face thinking. There are miles of guided busway out in the fields, bypassing all the villages with hardly any traffic on their roads yet, when the busway reaches the edge of Cambridge, the buses get dumped out onto the main roads right into the peak traffic flow.
The buses are really good on the routes that run from somewhere you don't want to start, to somewhere you don't want to go, but are crap on all other routes. On the bright side, they do appear to have got the wizardry working so you can tell how late your bus is going to be, courtesy of the electronic signs at bus stops (there, an IT angle!)
As an Edinburgh resident who objected to the proposed congestion charge here, I can’t agree more with so many of the above commentators. Edinburgh’s scheme took no account of the fact that the city centre is populated – people live there and commute out of town to work and were being charged to get home later.
Edinburgh also had its own congestion charge - it's parking fees and a Guided Busway which was supposed to solve all transport problems but ended up running for a tiny distance on the edge of town.
As someone said, it’s a moneymaking sham or protection racket from local gangsters, sorry, government, who have increased the numbers of traffic lights/pedestrian crossings which cause more delays than they reduce and which in some parts of town seem to be every few yards. They also gave permission for lots of roadworks around town to start just before the referendum took place which made congestion appear worse. Finally they’ve pushed through a tram scheme which has Edinburgh’s roads in an uproar from one side of town to the other as they first of all dig up the roads to move the cables, relay the roads, then dig them up again to lay the tracks. This will continue for the next 2 years at least.
Even a change in political party leading the Council has had no effect which makes one wonder if the elected Councillors are just a bunch of clones of some sort.