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You can’t park here mate! Considering the Cambridge parking and congestion challenge

Sponsored feature | Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID considers the questions of congestion and parking in the city.

Ian Sandison, CEO Of Cambridge BID, discusses on-street parking
Ian Sandison, CEO Of Cambridge BID, discusses on-street parking

The results of the regional mayor’s recent traffic survey are not surprising, those outside of Cambridge want more buses and greater frequency, city residents want less congestion.

I’m not sure why the results are split, we need just the one solution. I live in the city and can walk and cycle everywhere. Most employees of the retail hospitality and leisure sectors, more than 10 per cent of our economy, cannot work from home, they are broadly low paid and must drive because they can’t afford to live in the city and their route is not served by a bus.

With over 1.2 million vacancies in the economy it really is an employee’s market and is likely to remain so. Many businesses are announcing blanket pay rises to compete and Brexit has been a huge negative. Speaking to large employers many of their workers park on the public highway for free in the residential streets around the city, this is because they can’t afford to pay £25, effectively two to three hours pay at the minimum wage, a day to park.

Maintaining this on-street free parking and not having a congestion charge are essential if the city wishes to still be able to attract workers in this sector. I would ask those in favour of more residents parking schemes to consider this.

In many cases, the person parking is quite likely to later in the day be serving your coffee and cake, pulling your pint, serving you in a store or restaurant or somewhere else, if we make the city unattractive to these workers, they will go somewhere else.

Our already stretched high street businesses will operate less hours or close and we will lose a key component of what makes our city vibrant, the very thing we all yearned for in lockdown, the ability to meet with friends and socialise. To realise the wellbeing dividend, we need to be welcoming to those who work in our city and we need to stop consulting and start delivering a transport system for all users across all transport modes.

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