South East Cambridgeshire MP, Lucy Frazer, says the proposed congestion charge for Cambridge was not feasible and would leave people with no viable travel options.

During the last few months, I have been struck by the level of opposition from my constituents to the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s (GCP’s) plans to introduce a congestion charge in Cambridge and parts of South Cambridgeshire.

The GCP ‘Making Connections’ consultation, which attracted an exceptionally high 24,000 participants, found that 58 per cent of respondents oppose the creation of a charging zone for motorists, with 49 per cent “strongly opposed”.

In my own survey on the issue, 92 per cent of respondents stated their objection to the road user charge. 

It is clear from these findings that the scheme is not feasible. Most affected residents can see that the charge would leave them worse off and without a viable travel alternative, and they have united in significant numbers to make their voices heard.

I have been a critic of the prospective scheme since it was first announced last year, so have been very pleased to support their efforts.

On June 29, the GCP finally recognised the public mood and abandoned the plans in their current form. Instead, the executive board agreed that a “better scheme” would be sought, with a preferred option to be presented in the Autumn.

The possible revisions include limiting the congestion charge to peak times; offering drivers ‘free days’; or exempting visitors to the hospital site.

There are two obvious issues with modifying the scheme in one or more of these ways.

Firstly, the more exemptions introduced to the scheme, the less revenue the scheme raises for the GCP’s programme to improve local transport infrastructure.

According to the GCP executive board, the projected revenue range for any one of the new options is anywhere between £13-30 million per year by 2028, which is substantially less than the £50 million figure initially forecasted.

The watered down financial benefit of the scheme raises big question marks about the level of progress we can expect it to deliver.

I will continue to oppose the congestion scheme.