MP calls on Cambridgeshire council leader to reject road pricing proposals


An MP is calling on council leaders to ask their Greater Cambridge Partnership representatives not to support road pricing proposals.

Anthony Browne. Photo: Keith Hepell. (59644131)

South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne has written to the Leader of Cambridge City, South Cambridgeshire Borough and Cambridgeshire County Councils.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership will decide today (Wednesday) whether or not to consult on plans to provide cheaper bus fares, more frequent services with longer hours of operation funded by a daily road charge of £5.

Mr Browne started a road tax petition, which was signed by more than 3,700 locals. A second petition launched by residents collected more than 15,800 signatures.

The Tory MP urged leaders in his letter, which was sent ahead of today’s meeting, to review the evidence base of the GCP’s congestion charge plans.

He confirmed that his petition had been signed by 3,706 verified residents as of noon yesterday (Tuesday).

Mr Browne said: ‘If the GCP board votes today to hang the sword of Damocles over the heads of residents, they have failed in their duty to speak on behalf of their constituents.

“Residents don’t deserve to be taxed for visiting a dying relative, for driving to work, or even just for living on the wrong street. Even if they support the principle of a load, the council members must recognize that this idea must be seriously worked on if it is ever to come off the drawing board. Now is not the time to add to residents’ fears.

“I urge the GCP Board to be the voice of residents and push back against this draconian tax.”

The Board of Directors will decide whether to approve the public consultation projects this fall, before the business case is reviewed in the spring of 2023.

Public transport improvements would be made first as part of the plans, with some changes potentially as early as summer 2023, but the new road charge – if approved – would not be in place until 2026 or 2027.

The proposals set out what would be one of the largest investments ever made in a UK bus network to provide fares of £1 within the city and £2 for journeys within the commute to work area.

Plans also include longer operating hours of 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday to Saturday and 5 a.m. to midnight on Sundays and more frequent services – up to eight buses per hour within the city, six from market towns and rural buses every hour.

Mr Browne’s petition also garnered more than 2,500 comments, many of them critical of the scale and scope of the proposals.

The MP says research by his office proves the Cambridge proposals are the most restrictive of any proposed or existing charges.

He says only one other city – Durham – requires electric vehicles to pay, and even then only in a small area around Durham Cathedral.

Cambridge would be the only city in the country to charge for mopeds, and the only one where the charging zone applies to the whole city, the suburbs and even the hospital, he adds.

The GCP says lower traffic levels would also provide an opportunity to create more “people-centric” spaces in the city, and said the plans also confirm its support for the creation of 13 intercity cycle routes.


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