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Mayor James Palmer threatens to stop Cambridge to Cambourne busway in its tracks

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Mayor James Palmer has threatened to stop the Cambridge to Cambourne busway saying he has “concerns” given that there is a “lot of opposition”, particularly from villagers.

Mayor James Palmer at home in Soham. Picture: Keith Heppell. (27358337)
Mayor James Palmer at home in Soham. Picture: Keith Heppell. (27358337)

Mr Palmer, the mayor of the Combined Authority of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, told Cambridge Independent on Tuesday (January 21): “The GCP’s strategy of building Park & Rides and guided busways clearly fails to solve the problem of traffic congestion. When I asked them to build the first CAM routes, I trusted the GCP to come up with an effective, modern way forward, but what they propose is nothing more than another busway to another Park & Ride facility, and will prejudice our plans for the CAM network.

“It seems the GCP does not understand how truly transformative the CAM will be and lacks the ambition to bring it about. The Combined Authority I lead is the transport authority in this area, and I will not approve any proposals that do not fit in with our vision for the CAM.”

But the GCP pointed out that a review in 2018 “concluded that our approach was robust and the scheme developed into phase one of the CAM.”

The GCP added: “Throughout we have worked closely with the Combined Authority on our plans and on their aspirations for a regional network. Our papers show our proposals are CAM-compliant and an integral part of delivering the wider CAM network.”

After pausing work on a series of GCP projects, Mr Palmer called on the body to “step up and deliver” the busway in 2018. At the time he said there was a greater understanding of how those schemes might integrate into his emerging plans for a metro system.

He said: “The brief pause was necessary, but the GCP must now get on and deliver transport improvements, like the Cambourne to Cambridge scheme, that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been provided to do, and which people rightly expect.

“The GCP will need to decide which is the best route for the scheme, in consultation with the community, and deliver.

“The reality is the plans for the Cambourne to Cambridge busway are already at an advanced stage, with millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money already spent and while I will be monitoring progress closely, it really is now time for the GCP to see this project through.”

Later that year, having been “dead against” an off-road busway near Coton, the mayor said he was “wrong” and that the Coton route is the “most sensible” solution.

Mr Palmer said: “I have to admit, I was probably wrong. I think the Coton route is the most sensible route. CAM will be virtually silent and disruption will be minimal. We did consider a cut and cover option, but the costs of that would be extraordinary.

“I think we also have to be realistic. We have to be prepared that there will be substantial opposition from some quarters. It is a new route, it has to go off road and through villages and across country. I have got to be realistic, but the important thing is to make considerations for local people.

“I have had advice on the most sensible route. I don’t like saying things and then going back on what I have said. People who know me know I like to stay on track, no pun intended. But I have walked through Coton. This will not spoil Coton. It will change Coton.”

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