Cambridgeshire’s Mayor in Crazy Call to Stop Building Busways
Its crazy because the Mayors own plan is a busway – with tunnels in the centre – and using autonomous vehicles. This will still need dedicated corridors in Cambridge and to Cambourne and Park and Rideaeas because it will not be able to the whole rural areas. There is therefore complete alignment. The disruptive force here against the plans worked up for years by County City, Districts and the GCP – and agreed by teh government as part of devolution deals – is Mayor Palmer. There is a relatively small lobbby against the busway just as there was before the bus way was first started and there always will be in Cambridge. The Mayor’s proposals do nothing to assuage this as his scheme will still need a dedicated corridor through West Cambridge – that is the sort of hard choice that needs to be made. The combined authority isnt working – better to do like Dorset have two unitaries for Cambridgeshire – one for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire and the other for the Fens – simple.
Cambridgeshire’s mayor has called for a halt to plans for a new city busway to ensure public money is not wasted.
James Palmer warned that current proposals were incompatible with his vision for a new Cambridge metro system.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) has yet to decide on controversial plans to build a busway route between Cambridge and Cambourne.
Proposals to build new park and ride sites around Cambridge are also being developed.
But Mr Palmer said such work should be “paused” while his Combined Authority developed its own regional transport plan.
He also criticised the GCP’s lack of progress in delivering “serious infrastructure improvements” over the past four years.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority transport plan is due for completion in spring 2019.
Mr Palmer said: “In the meantime it’s important to ensure that nothing is done that potentially jeopardises the ambitions of the combined authority to transform public transport infrastructure in our county.
“It is therefore necessary for the GCP’s current plans to provide new busways and park and ride sites to be paused until such a time as the Combined Authority is certain that there is full alignment.
“This will ensure that public money isn’t wasted and that there is a coherent approach to providing significant new public transport infrastructure in greater Cambridge.”
The mayor said a summer consultation would help determine where there could be alignment between the two organisations’ plans.
“I very much hope that much of the work so far carried out by the GCP in relation to busways can be integrated into the emerging metro proposals,” he added.
“However I believe that much of what they’re proposing is incompatible with the vision for a new metro.
“Both during my election and since my election as mayor I have been clear my view that significant new park and ride sites in and around Cambridge are not the long term answer to our problems.”
Mr Palmer said there were significant local concerns around the GCP’s proposals and that his position was back by councillors in South Cambridgeshire.
Earlier this month, Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, the newest board member on the GCP said the Cambridge to Cambourne busway should be scrapped.
In the mayor’s interim transport statement he spelled out 10 strategic transport schemes that will be taken forward by the Combined Authority.
These include a new Cam Metro, an upgrade of the A10, an M11 extension, dualling the A47, a new Oxford to Cambridge expressway and another railway station to the south of Cambridge.
Mr Palmer said he was developing proposals to have the new Cambridge South station built within three years and was looking at the metro proposals with similar urgency.
He added: “If we’re ambitious it’s entirely possible that parts of the new system could be open within the next few years, something supported by the initial options appraisal that was jointly funded by the Combined Authority and the GCP.
“The fact is that the GCP has failed to deliver any serious infrastructure improvements over the first four years of its existence, I struggle to see why there is any reason that things will be any different over the next four.”
Mr Palmer said he had tried to build a “close working relationship” with the GCP but that the organisation had shown “little or no interest” in joint working.
Responding to the mayor’s comments in a statement, the GCP Executive Board said Cambridge faced the arrival of 44,000 new jobs alongside several major housing developments by 2030.
“This requires short term measures to tackle the pressing issues we face whilst working, in parallel, towards medium- and long-term ambitions,” it said.
“We do not believe the two are incompatible and the case for evidence-based interventions was recently backed by the Cambridge and Peterborough Independent Economic Review in its interim report.”
The GCP board it was working with the combined authority on schemes that provided the “building blocks” for the mayor’s transport vision.
The statement added: “This mayor’s transport statement has been published. It was not discussed with the GCP board in advance and we will now need to have further discussions with the mayor to understand the evidence base that underpins it, and how it will help us achieve the city deal targets we agreed with Government before the combined authority existed.”
Cllr Lewis Herbert, interim chair of the GCP Executive Board and Cambridge City Council leader, said: “The Greater Cambridge Partnership now has public transport projects in development west, south east and north of the city, and is close to starting delivery on schemes that have been subject to detailed consultation and which local residents and businesses need completed for the early 2020s – rather than asking them to wait for long-term solutions which have not yet started and that are projected could take years to deliver.
Cllr Herbert said the GCP Executive Board would wait for the outcome of the Combined Authority Board’s meeting on May 30 before making any further decisions on current plans.