Cambridge bid for transport cash

County Council Cabinet tackle transport conundrum

by Kevin Emery   September 24, 2009  

Cambridge railway station.jpg

Cambridgeshire County Council is close to agreeing a bid for £500M from the government’s Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) to improve transport links in the city and stop congestion bringing it to a grinding halt.

The move comes on the back of a report presented to Cambridge County Council by an independent transport commission which backed a TIF bid, and the council has agreed.

The record breaking investment would see a package of improvements designed to transform public transport and the roads as well as walking and cycling facilities.

Roy Pegram, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Growth, Infrastructure and Strategic Planning, said: “If people are not persuaded out of their cars in significant numbers by the transport improvements and we allow the city to come to a grinding halt by setting a ridiculous trigger point, this will damage the prosperity of the county, and in fact the entire country.”

As a first stage, Cambridgeshire is asking for early confirmation of Government funding for Chesterton Station, while a second stage will follow at the end of 2010 with a full bid for the remainder of the £500m package. This will include a trigger point for a congestion charge to be introduced that will need to be agreed by Government, partners and the public.

The Commission, led by Sir Brian Briscoe, said that Cambridgeshire deserves and needs hundreds of millions of pounds and that a bid for TiF funding should go ahead for the well-being of the county as well as the country.

The Commission’s report also said that a congestion charge should not be introduced until at least 2017 and suggested putting the decision of a ‘trigger point’ where congestion reaches an unacceptable level in the hands of the public, business and councils within Cambridgeshire.

The recommendation going to the County Council’s Cabinet meeting next Tuesday echoes the findings of the independent Cambridgeshire Transport Commission and says that the Council should work with local businesses, communities and partner authorities to agree the trigger for the introduction of a congestion charge. The report says Government will also need to agree this trigger point and it will need to be set at a level that addresses the congestion problem.

Roy Pegram added: “This funding would help us transform transport in Cambridgeshire and is a unique opportunity to secure the future prosperity of the county in these financially troubled times.

"It is vital that Cambridgeshire communities, councils and organisations set the point with Government when enough is enough and congestion charging must be brought in. Congestion will not go away but neither should we bring in a congestion charge without first revolutionising transport choice."

The decision taken by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet will be taken forward to Full Council on October 13 before any decision is taken.