Congestion Charge Views

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007. 11:36pm

Key points regarding my opposition to Cambridge’s proposed Congestion Charge, based on what I have said to Paul Cook, Cambridgeshire’s Head of Transport Policy and Strategy during the Congestion Charge exhibition held before Cambridge City Council’s East Area Committee meeting on Thursday 28th February, my local councillors and others:

  • I oppose a congestion charge, primarily on the grounds of invasion of privacy and restriction of freedom, as well as believing it will not be good for the City as a whole, driving companies and people out of the City.
  • I think development of sites such as the Airport, NAIB Huntington Road, Northstowe, Mereham, should be conditional on transport improvements being made prior to development. (And Transport planning being made on rational assumptions, ie. not assuming almost everyone living in Northstowe is going to either work from home or use the guided bus in preference to their car and therefore the new town can be built before the A14 is improved)
  • We’ve got a democratic vacuum here, as on other issues like policing, most of the development and the transport planning is being imposed on the City by the Cambridgeshire County Council on which the City has just a couple of members.
  • I don’t think relative to other cities Cambridge has huge amounts of traffic, with 500 million we could solve the existing problems by a with a range of schemes including:
    • One way systems – be bold and look at other cities.
    • Expanding the restricted junctions on the M11 / A14 which currently result in people crossing the city rather than getting straight to the main roads.
    • Bringing in fibre optic broadband internet – to the home, enabling more people to work, shop and generally live from home when they choose to do so.
    • A huge range of smaller schemes such as more School busses, cycling improvements, efforts to reduce supermarket shopping congestion.
    • Smarter bus routes – circular as well as radial
    • The new transport interchange and station at Chesterton
    • Stopping the guided bus and traffic coming in from Mereham both converging on an unprepared North of Cambridge and bringing gridlock to Histon and Milton Roads.
  • I am concerned about the privacy implications of the proposed charge, particularly as where my car is within Cambridge will be recorded. In London we have seen the police given ever increasing power to trawl the database for information of interest. I am in favour of the police using traffic cameras to solve crime, but there need to be safeguards ie. a warrant, signed by a judge or magistrate should be required.
  • I think there is a risk of killing the City and leaving it as a “Disney land” for students, shoppers and tourists. People who live and work, or want to retire and grow old in the City may be driven out.
  • I don’t think the charge should be imposed on Cambridge if either the residents in a referendum, or their representatives on the city council vote to oppose it.
  • I would like there to be an option for the people of Cambridge to go to central Government and say that we don’t want to be blackmailed, but believe we can fix our current and future congestion problems given the proposed investment, without a congestion charge. I believe that response to the city’s current predicament would have popular support.
  • I think the science park should be outside the zone (there has been a lack of clarity on this point over the course of the consultation).
  • Not to give residents an exemption, while essential for the functioning of the scheme according to those proposing it, is against rights that I consider absolutely fundamental, the right to enjoy and have access to your property.
  • As for those who should be exempt, my list of admittedly facetious suggestions includes : Taxpayers, specifically road tax payers, UK Citizens, Local residents. (Including short term residents), Taxi drivers, Delivery driver, Local businesses, Motorbike riders, scooter riders etc., The retired.m, The poor, Any organisation funded by public funds, including the University, Council etc. to prevent money going round in circles., Members of the armed forces, Teachers, Firemen, Paramedics, NHS doctors Nurses, and others doing critical health work.

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