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GCP Item - Making Connections Consultation

Meeting: 28/11/2022 - South Area Committee (Item 28)

GCP Item - Making Connections Consultation

Representatives from the GCP will inform councillors of the current consultation which runs until 23 December 2022. www.greatercambridge.org.uk/mc-2022


The Committee received a presentation from the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) Transport Director.


Members of the public asked a number of questions via written statement, as set out below.


1.    Publicity for GCP consultations. Despite repeatedly photographing and sending social media posts to GCP corporate accounts of empty bus stop notice boards (eg at Hills Road Sixth Form College) and supermarket notice boards (Tesco's Fulbourn, Sainsbury's Coldham's Lane, & the Co-ops), no posters have been put up advertising the consultations. Why not? Why the repeated refusals?


GCP Transport Director response: A substantial publicity campaign had been undertaken.


2.    Given that the three Cherry Hinton Councillors have come out against the GCP's plans for road user charging, please can someone talk about proposed contingency plans, if as happened in the late 2000s, the public authorities are unable to secure the necessary political mandate to bring in such charges. (Q for GCP officers - what are their plans if the county council full council *refuses* to approve the measures necessary for road user charging)?


GCP Transport Director response: GCP were in the middle of a ten week consultation. The results of which would be analysed then passed onto decision makers for consideration.


3.    What discussions have been had about the possibility of an edge-of-town freight exchange for internet-ordered goods in small packets that can be transferred to local cycle/e-cycle couriers thus reducing traffic and wear and tear on roads?


GCP Transport Director response: Previous discussions regarding freight consolidations have been held with business groups and they would continue outside of the current consultation.


4.    What discussions have been had about retrofitting our part of Cambridge to deal with the climate emergency? This question is mainly about our road and street network - for example creating new segregated cycleways or re-designating existing roads to prioritise pedestrians, then cyclists/scooter riders, then cars, as has been successfully implemented in France. Grateful for any comments from councillors about how to involve schools and youth groups on a routine basis in choosing what are the best routes to designate based on their regular journeys.


GCP Transport Director response: City Deal started with a focus on sustainable economic group but was expanded some time ago to considering wider climate issues. Details listed on the GCP website. For example delivery of greenways and the Chisholm Trail.


5.    What other chargeable areas and funding models has GCP explored aside from what is laid out in the current proposal?


Background to question, for the benefit of councillors:


The current proposal will leave many Trumpington households and their visitors unavoidably spending up to £5/day and £1300/year traveling ~0.5 miles to the M11 for journeys which cannot be adequately served by public transport, and which contribute nothing to the problematic city-centre congestion. (This also has the knock-on effect of not discouraging city-centre driving once that daily charge has been unavoidably incurred already.)


A fairer but also sustainable and adequate funding model that disincentivises city-centre driving while allowing access to Cambridge residents’ nearest M11/A14 junction might be e.g. a mixed funding system in which there is (1) a relatively small increase in council tax per household across the whole county to reflect the potential benefits offered to all households by improved bus services, supported by (2) a smaller chargeable zone defined by e.g. the loop of Lensfield Road/Silver Street/Queen’s Road/Chesterton and Victoria Roads/Elizabeth Way/East Road/Gonville Place with the residents contained within exempt from charges. Under a model such as this, it may also be reasonable for the charge to be higher since reasonable alternatives are available to everyone.


GCP Transport Director response:

      i.          Officers had been looking at this issue for three to four years to reduce traffic levels. If a road was closed then traffic moved elsewhere instead of reducing.

     ii.          Officers had previous examined, and consulted, on other proposals such as city wide road closures, work place parking levy etc.

   iii.          Having consulted on different zones for roads, people were less supportive on an the inner zone (compared to outer one) and the technical assessment shows that radial routes such as Coldhams Lane, Newmarket Road etc get a significant increase in traffic.

   iv.          The intention of current consultation was to seek peoples’ views on what actions they wanted.

    v.          It was not within GCP’s remit to change Council Tax, local authorities would have to do this. Queried how changes to Council Tax would help manage traffic? 


6.    What is the decision-making timeline for the STZ, beyond the consultation?


GCP Transport Director response: reiterated GCP were in the middle of a consultation. There had been a significant response to date, and it is likely to take until the summer to analyse and review


The Committee made the following comments in response to the presentation:

      i.          There was a lack of public awareness about the consultation. Residents did not have the facts to comment upon before the consultation started, only qualitative information on social media.

     ii.          Suggested there could be discounts for people who lived in the zone as city residents were paying for out of town commuter traffic.

   iii.          Suggested people who lived out of town (eg Cherry Hinton) and did not travel in by car should be exempt.

   iv.          Queried if the impact of road closures would be more keenly felt by certain groups (eg self-employed) than others?

    v.          Suggested the charging zone was too wide. Expressed concern that access routes to Park & Ride sites plus Addenbrooke’s (as the regional hospital) were included in the congestion zone.

   vi.          Air quality was poor regardless of traffic levels being peak or off peak.

 vii.          Bus services had been cut already but GCP’s scheme did not propose to replace them.

viii.          Nationally to date there was poor investment in bus services. A lack of drivers meant more cars on the road.

   ix.          GCP could engage with councillors to make use of their local ward knowledge.


The GCP Transport Director said the following in response to Members’ questions:

      i.          Information about the consultation was available on the GCP website, libraries, public meetings etc so details had been publicised. If people wanted to change bus routes etc they were invited to make comments.

     ii.          Fifty three percent of traffic on the city roads came from city residents. Giving them a discount would not encourage them to switch from cars to other forms of transport. The consultation was looking at ways to address this. Such as charging vans more than cars, based on consultation responses. Consultees could suggest when to apply charges, or not (eg evenings and weekends).

   iii.          The consultation sought peoples’ views on how to charge different types of vehicles (ie less for smaller, quieter lower environmental impact vehicles?) and facilitate ease of travel.

   iv.          A large charging zone was proposed at present based on previous consultation responses. People’s views were sought on current proposals to refine options further to mitigate increasing congestion and (linked) poor air quality. If people agreed or disagreed with proposals they were invited to say why.

    v.          Residents, carers and key stakeholders were being consulted to look at issues and possible solutions to concerns about charges. Referred to information on the GCP website regarding the Equality Impact Assessment which was refreshed on an on-going basis.

   vi.          Congestion was caused by all traffic types. It was expected to get worse by twenty to thirty percent in future and worsen air quality accordingly. Peak hour traffic was extending into off peak times ie roads were getting/staying busier for longer. Off peak quiet times were expected to disappear in future as traffic levels increased.

 vii.          It was up to decision makers to consider if they would only introduce a charging zone if traffic met certain levels. This was a future consideration and only early stage options were being considered at present.

viii.          One hundred and twenty buses per hour were proposed in the GCP scheme. Officers would work with all sites to ensure appropriate infrastructure (including shelters) was in place. Fewer private cars were expected on the road when bus services increased so freeing up capacity.

   ix.          Transport modelling suggested that more people would visit the city if public services improved. This information would be passed onto decision makers after the consultation.

    x.          There was significant investment planned in electric Park & Ride vehicles so investment – but more investment across the network was required. This was proposed as part of the long term investment plan to get better public transport. Recruiting bus drivers and improving services were also part of this. A sustainable fund was needed for long term investment.

   xi.          People could travel to Park & Ride sites for free, access routes would be exempt from the charge zone.

  1. It was up to Stagecoach to comment on whether drivers had left after changes to their terms and conditions. Stagecoach were actively recruiting drivers.