Park and Ride charges to go … but rises for on-street parking and residents’ parking

On Tuesday, the County Council‘s Highways & Community Infrastructure committee will be considering proposals for changes to parking charges in the city, including residents’ parking permit fees as well as on-street and Park & Ride parking charges.

Some of the proposals are good news, like the removal of Park & Ride parking charges, charges that we have opposed since they were first introduced in 2013. The charges have driven motorists away from the Park & Ride sites and into residential streets, which are already choc-a-bloc full of commuter cars.

The rise in residents’ parking permits and on-street parking charges is not such good news. One element that my party has opposed is the very steep 88% price hike for visitor permits – almost double. We believe this is not only disproportionate but very unfair on people who regularly have visitors during the day, such as the housebound. There are lower rises for residents’ permits … happily no rise for the new Morley scheme in Queen Edith’s that is just being introduced.

I am a member of the Highways committee and welcome your comments, which I will feed into my comments at the committee.

Please note that the charges have already been considered by the city-county councils’ joint traffic committee, where I and other Liberal Democrat members challenged the level of the rise in visitor permit costs, which we believe is over the top. We were disappointed – and not a little surprised – that our Labour colleagues defended this.

You can read the report at https://cmis.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/…/Com…/7/Default.aspx. The meeting is open to the public; if you wish to speak, you need to notify the County Council by noon on Thursday.

Morley Memorial school development gets go-ahead

Morley passed!

On Thursday 16th March, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Planning Committee passed plans for the developments at Morley Memorial Primary School.

The developments will bring the entire school onto a single site, and create three new classrooms, as well as make improvements to toilets, windows and the boiler, which will save the school money on maintenance. The details of the plans and the council report can be read here.

Local residents and Morley parents, staff and governors attended the meeting to listen to and participate in the debate. So did a prospective Morley pupil, a delightful gurgly baby called Hannah, whose presence reminded us what it’s all about.

Pamela McLeman and Mary O’Flynn, a former school caretaker, articulated concerns about loss of open space, and parking and traffic.

The Head, Nikki Brown, spoke of why the changes are needed and how they would improve the day-to-day logistics of school life as well as cater properly for pupils and staff with disabilities – and make all the children feel part of the school.

I spoke in support of the application, while recognizing the tension between traffic and the educational needs. You can read my speech here: Morley planning application

Councillors were impressed with the plans, praising the way the architectural design of the new build would blend with the old buildings, and showing an appreciation of how the school has balanced the need for play space. There was an understanding of the traffic and parking problems but an acceptance that parking is a problem at all schools, and that it was not of sufficient weight to stand in the way of the school’s improvements.

Construction traffic and pedestrians and cyclists do not mix, especially for young children and I asked if the condition on delivery hours could be amended to be well clear of school finishing time. I am pleased that this was taken up. Deliveries will now have to be completed by 2.45pm in termtime.

Contractors will be encouraged to use Park & Ride, as there will be no parking on Blinco Grove except for the school car park.

Impact of Park and Ride parking charges on Queen Edith’s residents

Here is my statement to the County Council’s Economy & Environment Committee on Park & Ride parking charges:

I fully support the withdrawal of the Park & Ride parking charges. They have reduced usage of the P&R sites. Not only have optimistic income predictions been proved illusory, but the bus ridership has suffered and parking has been displaced to residential areas in the vicinity of the Park & Ride sites.

Cabinet’s expectation was that motorists might avoid the charges initially but then realize that Park & Ride was cheaper than city centre car parks. This was a false prediction: what actually happens in Queen Edith’s is that the motorists avoiding the charges at Babraham Road either take the P&R bus or, more frequently, take one of the numerous bus services operating in Hills Road or from the Addenbrooke’s bus station. They leave their cars in residential streets.

Commuter parking is a huge problem in Queen Edith’s due to several traffic generators: the Biomedical Campus, Homerton College, a Leisure Park and two sixth-form colleges. We need commuters’ vehicles to be in the Park & Ride sites, not parked in local streets, or worse, on local pavements.

City Deal consultation starts today

City DealThe Greater Cambridge City Deal is a partnership between central and local government to deliver new infrastructure in Cambridge and the sub-region.

It is managed by a board comprising leaders of the councils in the area (Lewis Herbert, Steve Count and Frances Burkitt), plus representatives from the universities and business. They have just launched proposals to tackle rush hour congestion and are proposing eight initiatives. Some of the proposals have had a mixed reception, particularly bus lanes at the expenses of trees. One that has generated a lot of controversy in this area has been the congestion checkpoints, which would block major roads at peak times, incuding Hills Road.

The package includes:

  1. Better bus services and expanded use of Park & Ride
  2. Better pedestrian and cycling infrastructure
  3. Improved public space and air quality
  4. Peak-time Congestion Control Points (PCCPs)
  5. A Workplace Parking Levy
  6. On-street parking controls
  7. Smart technology
  8. Travel planning

These proposals aim to transform people’s ability to travel into, out of and around Cambridge by providing more efficient, safe and reliable capacity for travel, without the need to get in a car.

There is more information on the City Deal’s website and at community hubs and employment locations across Cambridge, South Cambridge and beyond. A series of events and exhibitions are being held including three in Queen Edith’s:

Addenbrooke’s Concourse tomorrow, 12th July

Babraham Road Park & Ride site 13th July

St John’s Church, 20th July

All aboard the Abbey-Addenbrooke’s Express!

115 busGood news! We’re getting a new bus service. Starting next month, the new 115 service, run by Whippet, will run hourly between the Newmarket Road Park & Ride site and Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The bus will stop at both Long Road and Hills Road sixth form colleges, St Bede’s and the Perse. In the other direction, it drops you off at shopping and leisure destinations such as Sainsbury’s, Mill Road, the Abbey Pool and the Cambridge United football ground.

The new service is a trial, funded by Section 106 developer contributions and will be made permanent if there is good take-up – so if you enjoy shopping, swimming or soccer, take a ride on the 115. Its first journey will be on Tuesday 3rd May.

Here’s a timetable and a handy map showing the route

Cambridge Park and Ride parking charges: to be decided on Tuesday

P&RThe Tory Cabinet at Cambridgeshire County Council is to vote on parking charges for the Cambridge Park and Ride sites on Tuesday.

The rot set in last September, when the Tories proposed a £1 charge, but the vote on Tuesday will be on a schedule of parking charges, which starts at a £1 but goes up to an eye-watering £30 for a longer stay.

There have been nearly 200 objections, focussing on shifting the parking elsewhere and the threat to the Cambridge evening economy.

I objected, as I fear that even a £1 charge will displace parking to residential streets, which in this area are already blighted by commuter parking. There is an amendment for new parking restrictions in Babraham Road itself, which will stop parking on the highway and on the grass verge and this is welcome – but I do not think this will be enough. Once away from the Park and Ride site, a commuter might as well park elsewhere and catch an ordinary bus. My objection

Park & Ride was introduced to keep cars out of Cambridge city centre and the charging for parking, on top of the bus fare, is a regressive move. While the P&R sites need to make more money, we in my party do not believe this is a wise way of raising it, and would prefer the Council to look at other ways of raising revenue, eg retail or catering at the sites, or raising the bus operator’s departure charge.

The £10 charge will be a lot to pay for low paid shop workers if they work long shifts, and jeopardises the evening economy, as it will be costly to do any shopping or socialising in the city after a day’s work. It will have an additional sting at the Babraham Road Park & Ride site, which is closest to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in my ward: it could well catch people who have to stay at the hospital longer than they expect to, for medical reasons, even the newly bereaved. There is an amendment to the original charging schedule to make this 18 hours instead of 12. I hope this is accepted.

The decision on the charging structure is to be made by the County Council Cabinet on Tuesday. You can read the report and recommendations here: http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/CMSWebsite/Apps/Committees/AgendaItem.aspx?agendaItemID=9419

Objection to the Park & Ride parking charges Traffic Regulation Order

P&RI have just written my formal objection to the Tory plan to introduce parking charges at the Park & Ride sites. Anyone parking for more than hour will face a £1 charge, which rises to £30 depending on how long you park for. There are season tickets for weekly, four-weekly and annual parkers, although the weekly parking ticket offers no discount over the daily charge. The parking charges will be on top of bus fares.

Formal objection to TRO PR0074

The Council invites representations and comments and I am sure they will receive plenty; although as the Tories have already taken the decision, the consultation appears artificial. You might wish to comment on the charging structure, eg season tickets.

The parking charges are being imposed to stem the deficit in the Park & Ride accounts and in the words of Cllr MacGuire, the Tory councillor in charge of the Park & Ride sites, ‘to catch’ people who don’t take the bus in after parking, but walk or cycle.

Liberal Democrats have warned of the risk of reducing usage of the Park & Ride sites, pushing parking elsewhere as well as increasing traffic in the city. We would prefer other ways of making money at the sites to be investigated, such as small-scale retail concessions, or reviewing bus operators’ departure charges.

Here is the formal traffic regulation order: P&R TRO

Send your comments to [email protected] by 14th February, quoting reference PR0074.

Tory Park and Ride parking charges: back to the drawing board

P&ROn Tuesday, Cambridgeshire County Council‘s all-Conservative Cabinet approved bringing in parking charges at the five Park & Ride sites in Cambridge.

Yesterday, I was one of a group of opposition councillors (Liberal Democrats plus a few Labour) who called the decision in, to have it looked at by a committee comprising councillors from all parties represented on the Council.

Today the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny COmmittee disapproved the unpopular move. Before any charges are levied, there must be:

  • consultation / engagement with districts/city and users
  • a proper assessment of risks and other options
  • consideration of whether this is a “key decision” as it is a strategic change to start charging

We haven’t won the war yet, but this is a victory for people power and the principle of the public having a voice over their services.

Help us overturn Tory Park and Ride fees

Yesterday, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Conservative Cabinet voted to introduce a £1 parking charge at the five Park & Ride sites in Cambridge. This would be on top of the existing bus fares for those who take the bus, and people parking cars and then walking or cycling from the Park & Ride sites would be paying for the first time.

This is extremely controversial, especially because there has been no consultation with users, employers, residents or anyone else. Nor has there been any assessment of the risks, such as parking displacement or modal shift. I spoke at Cabinet myself and focussed on the danger of extra parking in our already congested streets.

The Liberal Democrats have called this decision in, which means it will be voted on again by a committee comprising councillors from all the parties represented on the Council. (more…)

Liberal Democrats oppose Tory ‘sweat tax’ at Cambridge Park & Ride sites

P&RWe are disturbed to see that the County Council’s Conservative Cabinet is due to consider a lightning strike on Park & Ride users, with the introduction of a parking charge. This would be on top of bus fares and is targetted at people  – such as commuters — who walk or cycle from the Park & Ride rather than take the bus. A sweat tax, if you like.

The Liberal Democrat group has called for the plan to be withdrawn, as there has been no consultation with the users of the service, the people living near the Park & Ride sites, with councillors in the city, or with the district or city councils – despite the statement in their paper that these groups have been consulted.

While it is right that charges should be reviewed to ensure the Park & Ride sites are run efficiently, it is not right to change things with no consultation. In Queen Edith’s, I fear that if charges are brought in at Babraham Road, our local commuter parking problem will intensify.

The Tories’ case for the charges has been badly presented, with insufficient attention to the risk of parking displacement and of the effect on sustainable travel.pound coins

We have called upon the Tories to drop their plans until they have consulted users and people living near the Park & Ride sites, as well as councillors representing people in the Park and Ride site areas.