In last week’s blog, I talked about how headlines and debate continue to focus on specific schemes (e.g. the Sustainable Travel Zone, East West Rail), even while our politicians remain curiously silent about the intended overwhelming growth for our region.
And yet, if you dig into the detail, that intention is clear. For example, read the 250 page Economic and Technical Appendix released alongside the East West Rail route announcement and you’ll see that it assumes the expansion of Cambourne from its current population of just over 9000 residents to over 53000 residents by 2050. And that the installation of a new EWR station at Tempsford, a village of 600 residents south of St Neots, will ‘unlock’ the creation of a settlement of over 44000 residents in the same timeframe.
Reading this, I was reminded of a map published by geographer Alasdair Rae, where he splits the current population of the UK into four broadly equal parts:
Now extrapolate forward from the EWR ‘vision’ and its counterparts, and imagine what that map will look like by 2050. But presumably the consultants who write these reports are not paid to consider:
- The environmental stresses already manifesting themselves, particularly in terms of water demand (see this previous post);
- The failure to retain the economic proceeds of growth locally or distribute them evenly (see this previous post); and
- The well-documented weaknesses of our local governance structures which cripple any attempt to address either of the above:
Warning lights continue to flash red at @CambsPboroCA. The draft internal audit opinion reports "weaknesses in the framework of governance, risk management and control" https://t.co/TJtyeoi0zk pic.twitter.com/Z3qEiQA8RG
— Phil Rodgers (@PhilRodgers) June 3, 2023