Sam Davies

Talkin’ bout a revolution

Leaflets about the GCP’s ‘Sustainable Travel Zone’ consultation are being delivered to houses across Queen Edith’s, and I hope that, by now, you know about the importance of these plans which, if implemented, would have a huge impact on everyone’s daily life.

It was obvious from the number of residents who took advantage of the opportunity to speak to GCP officers at last weekend’s Greener Queen Edith’s event that many of you feel very strongly about the proposals. However, I remain concerned that too many other people in the area either don’t know about the consultation at all; are not clear on what’s being proposed; or think they have had their say by signing one of the petitions against the charging element of the plan.

If you, or anyone you know, falls into one of these categories, please get them to listen to this week’s BBC Radio Cambridgeshire interview with GCP representatives. You may find this more accessible and informative than the GCP’s own consultation materials.

Click on the link below and scroll slightly to 7 mins 20 seconds:

The discussion reflects listeners’ concerns and questions on key topics such as the Sustainable Travel Zone boundary, operating hours, exemptions etc.

Other locally-focused opportunities to ask officers questions are:

  • Drop-in public exhibition, Trumpington Meadows Primary School, 5–8pm, Monday 15 November
  • GCP South Area Community Forum online webinar 6–8pm, Tuesday 22 November

Remarkably, despite having asked a week ago for clarification, I am still waiting for an explanation of the process by which any formal response to the GCP consultation from the City Council will be approved and submitted. There are no scheduled meetings of full Council or relevant committees to approve a response before the consultation closes on 23 December.

I will be preparing a personal response in the coming weeks and would very much like to hear your views as an input to that.

Let’s make sure we use the next month to have a constructive and informed discussion.

Sam Davies


  • Sam,
    I’ve posted in fora elsewhere, and without prejudice, there are no hard copies of the background documents available to inspect at public libraries.

    I believe that is a legal requirement.

    I’ve raised this with the GCP, but it’d be helpful to have some city council view on the propriety of the consultative process.

  • Hi Luke – not sure on the legalities but the GCP Making Connections website says this: “From the week commencing 24 October, you can also find paper copies of materials at Cambridgeshire libraries. Copies will be available for inspection at Central Cambridge, Histon, Rock Road, Cherry Hinton and Cambourne libraries. Please see the libraries page(External link) for details of locations and opening times.”
    So if you’re telling me that those promised copies aren’t in situ, that needs addressing asap (and I fully accept that the distribution can best be described as patchy …)

  • I was listening to the radio link above, and just after posting my comment above, at the end of the
    interview, at 59.21, Cllr Meshini said: ‘we have paper copies of all the consultation materials at key libraries…’. That’s not true at Cambridge Central Library.

    The consultation period should be taken to be the date from which all background documents are available for public inspection in hard copy, as is consistent with the legislation.

  • Thanks Sam,
    I can only comment on the central library, and I have emailed the adress on the gcp website, and called the number and spoke with a very nice chap, on Wed.

    As of Wednesday, there were a few copies of the 27 page brochure and some consultation questionnaires in the Cambridgeshire Collection, and a few of the same on a small innocuous table sort of near the main entrance, without any display boards, etc.

    Conversely, there are thousands of pages of Network Rail bumph about the Cambridge South station, some of the next local plan documentation, various development updates, etc on the second floor.

    What they do now have was only delivered on Oct 31st, after the library chased them up……

  • There is so much wrong with all this that it is difficult to know where to begin…

    How long do the charges need to be collected before there is enough in the pot to subsidise the bus company(s) ?
    Or will the money just disappear into the bottomless hole that is the GCPs financial piggy bank.

    If nobody comes in and pays the charges, the whole deal falls on its face.

    Sounds naive, doesn’t it? So the real question is, does the bus company get subsidised to get a decent service going before or after the charging is instigated?

    So does the GCP intend to spend even more money on cyclist provision than the £2m+ squid recently forked out for the nonsense at the bottom of Fendon Rd /QEW and however much it cost over at least 3 years, to make new cycle lanes on Hills Rd, over the Gogs and far away, and is that also coming out of the congestion charges? Cyclists have far less to fear from motorists than they do from potholes and irate pedestrians.

    As I live inside the proposed boundary, does it mean that every time I take my car off my drive, drive over to my daughters in Fulbourn and return to my house later, I would be liable for a charge – or have I missed something ? I’d rather go to gaol!

    Seems like the GCP has got itself into an entirely predictable pickle and they now expect us to bale them out.

    Cambridge must be one of the richest cities in one of the riches countries in the world and we can’t even run a decent bus service. Too many fingers in too many pies perchance Grommit?

  • Listening to the radio interview, It was interesting to hear the two councillors evade time and again the excellent question why they have not put a rush-hour only option into the consultation.
    It was also informative to hear cycling and walking yet again lumped together as a concept. The GCP, fixated by the cycling lobby, seems to assume that improving cycle access will somehow make walking easier.
    The hierarchy of needs starts with pedestrians, but nowhere is there a plan for how the walking experience will be improved. Improving the pavements would be only the first step.
    I do wonder whether this entire consultation process is purely decorative, as Sam’s comment regarding the city council seems to indicate.

  • I went to a GCP organised’ walk-in consultation’ and met a councillor who was enthusiastic about the additional bus services. My sceptical comments were about the ability of the GCP to recruit and retain the very large numbers of bus drivers and route managers to run their system when drivers and managers with appropriate skills are in such short supply across the UK. The response that wages would be increased by 30% seemed to me a failure to understand the inflationary effects across the country of such a decision and its self-defeating long term effect. I doubt that my views will reach the GCP. The GCP ‘consultation’ asks if you are in favour of a better bus service. That question alone, with its obviously positive answer, will give the GCP their grounds for introducing the congestion charge. Most of their questions are about mitigating the damage when the charge is introduced. A service that reduces the numbers of persons who will pay for that service will lead to higher charges – a question aired in the Radio Cambridge session. The answer essentially stated that after the initial drop in congestion, congestion will continue to increase and that increase will pay for the future increased costs! Fairness will require a large numbers of exemptions from the charge that will then give a battle between fairness and financial stability for running the system. The effect on the cost of living in Cambridge is not sufficiently consulted upon but at the ‘walk-in’ was waived away by suggestions, such as the decrease in congestion will compensate. I could not see where there was consultation about different methods of combating congestion and pollution. Minds appeared to have been set that the GCP will have a city-wide congestion charge: – a greater Cambridge persecution.

  • Have just been in Cambridge Central Library and can confirm there is merely the leaflet and a copy of the survey there (hidden away at the very top, tucked in the Cambridgeshire Collection room) but no supporting documentation to substantiate claims made in the brochure at all.

  • We need more bus lanes especially on Hills Road where you can walk home from Cambridge City Centre quicker than a bus. Congestion only occurs at peak travel times usually created by school children taken by car. Note the change during school holidays.

    CCCouncil have considerable data on travel patterns from blue tooth monitors at traffic junctions which can plot vehicular routes taken. I do not think this has been published.

    Many wealthy car owners will consider the charges as part of their coffee budget and dismiss it! The burden will fall on the elderly and disabled who are helped by friends and family who will not all qualify for relief. I visit a friend with Parkinson’s once a week. Why should I be penalised? Small builders, cleaners and health workers will be affected by cost or form filling.

    The poor scouring supermarkets for cheap food from villages in South Cambs or people attending afternoon performances at cinemas or theatres by those afraid of the dark will be also affected.

    Electric cars should not be exempt as they produce half their pollution off their tyres and much of their electricity is produced with more pollution than petrol.

    Where is the space in bus stations for all the new busses or the park and ride spaces for cars. They appear to be in the charge zone.