Why prospective elected mayors should pause after the Cambridge roadblocks fiasco

It appears that Labour/ Conservative proposals to fine drivers using key roads in and out of Cambridge in peak hours may be for the scrap heap, or at least the City Deal chair, Labour councillor Lewis Herbert, has declared them ‘unviable’.

It’s excellent that the huge volume of objections appears to have forced the Cambridge area’s City Deal Board into a rethink. But such a plan shouldn’t have seen the light of day in the first place, especially without proper exploration of other ways to achieve the very necessary aim of reducing traffic congestion in Cambridge.

The decision two years ago to introduce parking charges at the Cambridge Park & Ride sites resulted in half-empty car parks and a drop of 15% in bus passenger numbers. That clearly needs to be reversed. And we need an open and wide-ranging conversation including all who live or work in Cambridge, or visit the city for whatever purpose, about how to make travelling into the city more sustainable.

But the whole fiasco is also an object lesson in what happens under remote boards like City Deal, consisting of representatives selected by councils to make decisions at an extra remove from the public. And it’s an alarm bell about how decisions on all sorts of matters will be taken by the new ‘powerful Mayor’ of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough and his ‘combined authority’, which will be foisted on us by the Government and by Conservative and Labour councillors from May next year.

Budgens new SMOOTH forecourt

Many of us do our shopping at Budgens at Adkin’s Corner, just outside the Queen Edith’s ward. While the supermarket itself is modern and pleasant to shop in, its car park is full of monster potholes and hard to traverse. When it rained, the potholes fill up and the area resembles Venice gone grey.

As the Labour councillors representing this area seem to have taken no action, Lib Dem councillors took on the challenge of getting the forecourt sorted. The County Council has acknowledged responsibility for it and repairs are on order.

Expansion work starts at Babraham Road Park & Ride

Cambridgeshire County Council is starting work on extending the popular Babraham Road Park & Ride site.

The Babraham Road site is the most used of the five Cambridge Park and Ride sites and the expansion is needed to ensure there are enough parking spaces for people wishing to use the highly successful service into and across Cambridge.

Most weekdays the site is full for around two hours and 90% of spaces are taken for four hours.  On weekends, 90% of all spaces are full for three hours a day.

The expansion project will increase the existing capacity of 1000 car parking spaces by about 500 and add a further 80 sheltered cycle parking spaces. The extension is expected to cost £2 million, with funding provided from developers in the area served by the Park and Ride.

The construction will not affect the normal operation of the Park and Ride service. However a very small number of existing parking spaces around the work site will not be available. The extended site is expected to be available in time for Christmas.