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‘Avoid £5 Cambridge road charge fee by buying groceries at the weekend’

Residents will be expected to visit the supermarket at weekends to avoid paying the proposed £5 daily road charge, according to the Greater Cambridge Partnership.

Traffic and users around Cambridge Railway Station. Picture: Keith Heppell. (59372957)
Traffic and users around Cambridge Railway Station. Picture: Keith Heppell. (59372957)

Isobel Wade, assistant director, sustainable and inclusive growth at the GCP, told a meeting of the joint assembly that charging would not take place at weekends to allow access to supermarkets.

Ms Wade was responding to a question from Wendy Blythe, speaking on behalf of the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations, about those with mobility issues that are not registered as disabled.

She asked: “There are residents who are not registered as disabled but have mobility problems and can’t walk very far. They need to drive sometimes. Will they be exempted? Has the GCP looked at other examples of time restrictions as well as charging structures?”

Ms Wade responded: “A range of options for charging have been considered as well as different timing restrictions.”

Wendy Blythe on Garet Hostel Bridge . Picture: Keith Heppell. (59372799)
Wendy Blythe on Garet Hostel Bridge . Picture: Keith Heppell. (59372799)

Vehicle movements into, out of and within the proposed ‘Sustainable Travel Zone’ would incur a flat daily charge between 7am and 7pm on weekdays, although there would be some exemptions.

The GCP says ongoing revenue needs to be found and space must be created to deliver a major shake-up of the bus network, offering cheaper fares, more frequent services and longer operating hours.

Ms Wade added: “As set out in the report it is proposed that additional work and engagement takes place with groups who have particular mobility needs that do not qualify for Blue Badge or low-income discount in order to understand the impacts of these potential solutions.”

There were also concerns raised at the meeting last Thursday (September 8) about the work needed to improve footpaths if more people were to be encouraged to walk.

David Stoughton, chair of Living Streets Cambridge, told the assembly: “Any modal change in travel requires a whole system perspective. An expansion of the bus network will inevitably require that travellers make heavier use of the footways. Footways in Cambridge are in a terrible condition: damaged, dangerous and a disgrace to the city.

“Our research shows this to be a widely held view and a deterrent for many.

“I find myself regularly comparing these areas of disrepair with that of walking in Mumbai, a city with which I’m quite familiar. As in Mumbai, the pedestrians are often forced to give their entire attention to watching for problems beneath their feet: broken paving, raised manholes and potholes.

“As in Mumbai, the footway is often totally blocked. We don’t have the sleeping cows that that city has. Instead, vehicles not content with the entire road park on the pavement, often forcing pedestrians into the street.”

He asked: “Will the proposed expansion of the bus network see a corresponding investment in footways so that walking is safe and pleasurable, not as it often is at present.”

Ms Wade explained that revenue from the charging will not only fund bus improvements but will invest in improvements for pedestrians.

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