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Scrutiny committee calls in mayor’s transport plan

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Lucy Nethsingha. Picture: Keith Heppell

They say the plan will delay “urgent projects” and impact the city and South Cambs local plans.

The mayor is pushing for a CAM Meto and has budgeted £1.5billion for it in 2021
The mayor is pushing for a CAM Meto and has budgeted £1.5billion for it in 2021

Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors are joining forces in an attempt to stop a transport plan by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s Tory mayor James Palmer.

The authority’s scrutiny committee will review the mayor’s interim transport plan on Friday. The plan caused improvements to bus services and Park & Rides to be halted.

Mr Palmer has said that Park & Rides are not the long-term solution to ease the region’s congestion issues. He is pushing for a CAM Metro, for which the Combined Authority has budgeted £1.5billion in 2021.

Critics have said solutions are needed now to ease pressure already growing in the city, with thousands of employees set to start jobs at new buildings on Cambridge Biomedical Campus this year.

Calling in the Combined Authority board’s transport plan, Liberal Democrat county councillor Lucy Nethsingha said Park & Ride provision is key to the local plans which allow the city council and South Cambs District Council more control of development.

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cambridgeshire County Council and chair of the CA Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “I am very concerned that the request by the mayor to call a halt to a number of schemes in the Cambridge area could cause delay to projects which are urgently needed to tackle the ever growing traffic problems.

“With the bio-medical campus growing everyday we need to provide improved public transport as soon as possible. Even a delay of a few months could cause problems, as Papworth hospital is due to open on the Addenbrooke’s site in the autumn.”

Cllr Mike Sargeant, vice-chair of the CA Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “The Local Plans for both Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire are currently reaching the final stages of inspection and it is vital that our draft plans are underpinned by an evidence-based strategic transport plan and accepted by the Inspector.

“We are also asking for clarification of the impact of the Interim Transport Strategy Statement on our plans to tackle congestion in Cambridge including around the Addenbrooke’s site where capacity at the Trumpington Park & Ride is very near its limit.

“It is not clear how or if the mayor’s statement aligns with our draft Local Plans or current plans for new transport infrastructure.”

“It is disappointing to say the least that the mayoral Interim Transport Strategy Statement was produced out of the blue with no clear rationale for its need and no opportunity for scrutiny members or indeed for other members in the constituent local authorities to consider it ahead of the board meeting despite its impact on our draft Local Plans. This is not how the Combined Authority or the mayor should operate.”

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