In April 2022 East Cambs District Council passed a motion opposing congestion charging in Greater Cambridge. The motion was supported by Conservatives; the Liberal Democrat Members voted against it.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) is proposing to charge £5 per day for cars and £50 per day for HGVs to drive into Cambridge between the hours of 7am and 7pm on weekdays.
Thousands of residents in East Cambs require access to Cambridge on a daily basis, for work, education, healthcare, and for leisure and entertainment; East Cambs residents support the Cambridge economy. This congestion charge is an iniquitous tax that will unfairly penalise the least well off the most.
The GCP proposals for bus service improvements do not stack up – they are based on out of date data and do not take into account the looming issues for the bus network across Cambridgeshire, where there is a perfect storm brewing with Stagecoach about to notify the withdrawal of many services and the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough talking about making cuts to subsidised routes.
The proposals for Demand Responsive Transport in rural areas are unattractive, unproven and unsustainable. Demand Responsive Transport is enormously expensive and does not offer residents a viable option on a daily basis.
The GCP is an unelected organisation that has no mandate, remit or power to inflict this tax on the rest of Cambridgeshire. Only the Liberal Democrat led County Council has the power to impose this charge and, if it is minded to do so, we demand that they give the decision to the people of Cambridgeshire through a county wide referendum. A petition has been set up to ask for this to happen.
East Cambs District Council recognises the need to tackle congestion and to provide attractive alternatives to the car. Indeed, the District Council has done more than most – within its limited powers and finances – to further that cause.
East Cambs District Council successfully championed the case for the reopening of Soham Railway Station – a huge success story with 11,500 journeys starting or finishing at Soham in its first 3 months of operation. The Council continues to pursue the case for doubling the track to facilitate an hourly service and for the completion of the track at Newmarket to facilitate direct journeys from Soham to Cambridge.
East Cambs District Council built new low cost car parks at Ely and Littleport railway stations to encourage people to use the train.
East Cambs District Council is championing improvements to bus services and active travel for our residents and has provided funding towards this.
The Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) (which is the Transport Authority for Cambridgeshire), Dr Nik Johnson, is failing. He is failing to articulate a vision for transport for the county, he is failing to plan and deliver transport solutions, he is failing to provide leadership.
Unfortunately, the Mayor of CPCA has cancelled the Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM) which would have provided an attractive alternative to the car, and the benefits of which would have spread into East Cambs and across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Unfortunately, the Mayor has failed to win any funding at all from the Government’s £7bn public transport overhaul for bus service improvements or from the £5.7bn combined authority sustainable transport funding (the only Combined Authority area in the country not to have been awarded funds). It is clear that Government is not convinced that Cambridgeshire is putting forward credible and viable transport proposals.
Unfortunately, the Mayor has failed to support East Cambs’ Cycling and Walking Strategy, despite the significant head room in Combined Authority budgets.
Unfortunately, the Mayor is failing to deal with the looming devastating issues for the bus network across Cambridgeshire.
The GCP and the Mayor have categorically failed to show how they can possibly provide the high quality public transport offer that is needed for the whole of rural East Cambs if people are to be persuaded out of their cars.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership is made up of representatives from Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and the University of Cambridge. You can read more about the proposals in the Agenda paper here (from page 30): ‘Public Transport and City Access Strategy’.