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‘So much has changed – but CSET busway plans haven’t’





Drawing party political lines in the debate over the £132million Cambridge South East Transport (CSET) busway will lead to a decision not in the interest of residents, it is claimed.

Some of the residents of Stapleford and surrounding area against the proposed busway . Picture: Keith Heppell. (55768986)
Some of the residents of Stapleford and surrounding area against the proposed busway . Picture: Keith Heppell. (55768986)

Great Shelford Parish Council says it is becoming “increasingly concerned” that the CSET busway plans have become “polarised along party political lines”.

In a letter to Greater Cambridge Partnership executive board chair, Cllr Elisa Meschini, the parish council says it hopes that its “apolitical position can allow progress to be made in the debate without recourse to other loyalties”.

Their letter, seen by the Cambridge Independent, follows exchanges between South Cambridgeshire’s Conservative MP Anthony Browne and Cllr Meschini, who is also the Labour deputy leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.

A survey run by the MP found more than 80 per cent of respondents did not support the current CSET proposal.

Of the 1,958 responses to the survey, some 71.96 per cent of respondents would “definitely not” support the GCP’s preferred route and a further 8.99 per cent would “probably not” support it. But Cllr Meschini said that the topic was too “complex” to be answered with a “yes” or “no” poll

“Asking a binary question on a complex subject, without providing background information or a detailed picture of the situation in response to which the scheme was developed, might serve his political purposes but is unlikely to result in a useful answer,” she said.

Some of the residents of Stapleford and surrounding area against the proposed busway . Picture: Keith Heppell. (55768989)
Some of the residents of Stapleford and surrounding area against the proposed busway . Picture: Keith Heppell. (55768989)

Cambridge Labour MP Daniel Zeichner also warned: “In my view, surveys carried out by those with a particular axe to grind should always be treated with caution.”

In its letter, Great Shelford Parish Council says it disagrees with this assessment and adds it was “extremely grateful to see a simple, coherent survey, which gave clear context and enabled local people to voice their concerns”.

CSET would provide a new public transport route from the A11 via Sawston, Stapleford and Shelford to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, with a new path alongside it for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, similar to the one along existing guided busways. A new travel hub would be created near the A11/A1307 junction in addition to the existing Babraham Road Park & Ride. The GCP has previously consulted on its plans in 2015, 2016, 2018 and, most recently, in late 2019.

An environmental impact assessment was undertaken in 2020 with feedback from this consultation set out in 2021. But the parish council points to a number of material changes since the consultation, including the cancellation of the Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM), the planned expansion of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and the decision on the retirement village on Hinton Way in Stapleford.

“We cannot understand how the current proposals can be taken forward when so many material considerations have changed in the intervening period,” the letter says.

Stapleford Parish Council protest against CSET (55826565)
Stapleford Parish Council protest against CSET (55826565)

It also accuses the GCP of confusing two different proposals in its response, conflating the possible reopening of the Haverhill line with the “railway route” or Shelford Rail Alignment that was explored extensively by i-Transport and Mott MacDonald and which is not currently being promoted by any opposition groups.

The letter concludes: “We strongly believe we are speaking on behalf of our residents in asking GCP to seriously examine the alignment along or beside the A1307 as it offers a simpler, cheaper, lower impact option than the current proposals.

“The A1307 route option was examined in detail before the requirement for the busway to be CAM compatible was imposed and we urge you to readopt this plan, with suitable revisions to take into account any recent relevant changes in circumstances.

“The voting public are intelligent enough to appreciate that when circumstances change, a business or project plan should be reviewed. Your justification for not reviewing the situation is, as illustrated by the contents of this letter, simply not sound, and allowing this to become a party-political issue is not in the interests of the residents of our Parish nor of the wider South Cambridgeshire community.”

CSET transport route video grab. (55826554)
CSET transport route video grab. (55826554)

A GCP spokesperson said: “Greater Cambridge faces a significant challenge – we need to keep people moving while cutting congestion and air pollution to help support efforts to tackle climate change.

“Thousands of people travel through the A1307 and A10 every day to visit Addenbrooke’s Hospital or to work at expanding employment sites in the south of the city. Without taking action now, congestion and air quality will only get worse with thousands of new jobs and homes due to be created over the next decade.

“The dedicated busway and active travel route created as part of the Cambridge South East Transport scheme – which has been subject to four extensive public consultations – would take hundreds of cars off the road every day by providing better journeys to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, and on to the city centre, from growing communities in the south-east.”

Read more:

Call for ‘complete review’ of controversial CSET busway scheme

MP seeking views on Cambridge South East Transport busway



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