Cambridge Liberal Democrat leader Tim Bick says Centre for Cities report highlights lack of City Deal leadership

PUBLISHED: 11:24 24 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:24 24 March 2017

10 05 16 General views Cambridge. Traffic congestion, East Rd. Picture: Keith Heppell

10 05 16 General views Cambridge. Traffic congestion, East Rd. Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

He says a new ‘cult of the anti-expert’ has come to Cambridge.

By rejecting out of hand a peak-hour congestion charging regime for Cambridge, City Deal leaders are flunking difficult decisions and suppressing important public debate, says Lib Dem City Councillor Tim Bick.

Cllr Bick comments following this week’s report from Centre for Cities promoting three key priorities for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – one of them a system of congestion charging in Cambridge.

The City Deal is progressing a clean air zone as an alternative to a congestion charge.

He said: “I think everyone can understand that congestion charging is controversial. But if it was also one of the best potential answers to our situation, you would expect our City Deal leaders at least to flesh out a scheme and help the public to assess the benefits and costs against alternative approaches. Instead, Tory and Labour together have locked shoulders to discard the idea before they even got started.

“The shame is that, as the Centre for Cities says, congestion charging offers the best hope for funding truly first class public transport – clean, affordable and comprehensive, from which everyone – particularly those on low incomes can benefit. This is an outcome most people seem to want, so it’s important for the City Deal leaders to highlight ways of paying for it.

:: What could a Clean Air Zone in Cambridge city centre look like?

“It’s not as if their preferred approach, the now infamous city centre road closure scheme, had exactly been an uproarious success, having been abandoned amid marches and protests last autumn. It would anyway have done little or nothing to improve public transport.

“The Centre for Cities is a respected strategic think tank focused on good public policy in UK cities. Their interest in congestion charging underlines much of the evidence gathered by the City Deal itself. But for our leaders to have scuttled off in the other direction rather than allow an informed public debate is truly incredible and a dereliction of true leadership.

“Perhaps this is the new cult of the anti-expert that has now come to Cambridge.”

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