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‘We can’t afford not to create new light rail network’ says Cambridgeshire mayor candidate

By Ben Comber

East Camb Mayoral candidate James Palmer . Picture: Keith Heppell
East Camb Mayoral candidate James Palmer . Picture: Keith Heppell

The Conservative candidate to be mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough says he wants the A10 to become a dual carriageway – and believes the region cannot afford to pass the opportunity of a light rail network.

James Palmer said: “I’m working alongside (South East Cambridgeshire MP) Lucy Fraser to bring forward modelling for a dualling of the A10 from Cambridge to Littleport. It’s part of the devolution project, and we certainly can accelerate it from the mayor’s position.

“At the moment Cambridge is overheating because people need to live close to Cambridge in order to work in Cambridge. I’ve talked before about a light railway for Cambridgeshire, and an underground, so Cambridge and South Cambs don’t have to take all of that housing growth.

“It’s important to make sure the unique city of Cambridge is protected in the centre but it’s also important that people of Cambridgeshire have the option of better transport links, which they don’t have at the moment.

“A mayor is a leader and a mayor doesn’t have to go through the massive bureaucracy of a council to get things done. That’s the whole point of the Combined Authority: It has the power to introduce infrastructure across the county.”

He said the mayor, due to be elected in May, will be well placed to work with the private sector to deliver ambitious projects like a light rail system.

“City Deal is saying it’s too expensive. My opinion is it’s too expensive not to do anything. The ultimate price we will pay is that Cambridge will not be the strong leader that it is at the moment unless we sort out the infrastructure in Cambridgeshire.

“Unless we spread the Cambridge effect throughout the county we will never compete internationally at the highest possible level and I’m not particularly interested in being the second best place in the world to do business. I want Cambridgeshire to be the world leader.

“We know what examples there are around the world. Barcelona has put in a 52km, 50- station underground for 5.6 billion euros.

“We know the technology is there and we know the work they are doing is innovative. The cost is far less than the traditional cost of putting in an underground station.”


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