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£5 a day for cleaner air

Sponsored feature | By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID

Ian Sandison, of Cambridge BID Picture: Richard Marsham
Ian Sandison, of Cambridge BID Picture: Richard Marsham

The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) is proposing a £5 daily congestion charge from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Fridays. While this will no doubt receive mixed views from those wishing to visit the city and those who work here, the proposal that residents will have to pay, even if they commute out of the zone, is the most surprising and sure to get a reaction.

GCP presented to our July board meeting and broadly I think businesses are supportive of the idea of a cleaner greener city, but they need to get deliveries in - very little has been said about how this will be achieved and staff also need to get to work.

The plans to run buses from 5am to 1am with a flat fee is also very welcome, whether the new wider bus network will serve the whole travel-to-work region we wait to see. I was also encouraged to be told that the new buses would be in place for 18 months or so before any congestion charge was introduced, funding for this is already ring-fenced and this will serve as a good incentive to get people out of their cars and try the bus.

[Read more from Ian Sandison and Cambridge BID: Office workers - Cambridge needs you]

One key issue is that buses operating on the same roads as cars will not have greatly improved travel times until a significant number of cars are taken off the road to free up space on our narrow roads. The early adopters of the bus will not get the benefit and may lose motivation and drift back to their perceived more comfortable car.

I would like to see city centre retail, hospitality and leisure workers exempt from this charge. We already have a hiring crisis and this will simply encourage them to work elsewhere. I would also like to see a pause on the current plans to introduce more residents’ parking schemes in the city before these new buses are introduced. This will give those who park for free in residential side streets encouragement to stay working in the city until the new buses are running, otherwise we will lose these workers to other locations.

Let’s find a way to a cleaner, greener city but also one where goods, visitors and people can still move around.

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