Cam Metro 'a fools' folly' and we will scrap it says Labour

Dr Nik Johnson will scrap Cam Metro

Labour's Dr Nik Johnson has promised to scrap the Cam Metro if elected in May to be the next mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. He called it a 'fools' folly'. - Credit: Archant

Scrapping the £4bn Cam Metro will be an early priority of Labour if they win the mayoralty of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in May.  

In a scathing attack on Conservative Mayor James Palmer, Labour candidate Dr Nik Johnson described the metro as a ‘fools' folly”. 

“I don’t believe it offers value for money or benefits all residents of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough,” said Dr Johnson. 

“I want to start my term as mayor with a clean sheet and consider all transport options with a fresh eye. 

“We need to ensure that those in the north, Peterborough, March, Wisbech are better served. I just don’t believe this project will deliver for the Combined Authority as a whole. 

“This project has all the hallmarks of being an expensive folly and a potential blackhole for national and local government finances” 

Dr Johnson had his calculator to hand as he outlined his opposition to the metro during a Zoom meeting with party members in Fenland and Peterborough. 

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“At €92m per single track kilometre the CAM costs will be greater than Crossrail and HS2 - which costs €78m/STK,” he said. 

“It is three times more expensive than the cost per single track kilometre than the Edinburgh system and €18m PSM than Manchester.” 

He believed the CAM project doesn’t give value for money for all residents of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority area - with “the many paying for a project that benefits relatively few”. 

He said: “I want to concentrate on making more immediate positive changes for the betterment of residents across Cambridgeshire. 

“Better transport and more social and affordable homes. These will be my priorities - not trying to deliver a hugely expensive legacy burden left by Mayor Palmer. 

“I believe in being honest and upfront with voters and therefore I have to say it straight out - I will not support this project.

“I see no benefit in proceeding with the project as it stands - but lots of negatives.” 

Dr Johnson said he was also concerned about how the project would be funded with a mixture of central government, cash, private investors, local contributors and “land capture.” 

He claimed the idea of paying for a system by needing to build 60,000 extra homes along the route - including 7,000 new houses on land east of Linton in South Cambs just announced by Mayor Palmer, didn’t make sense. 

“This is being sold as a project to make the county greener, to get people off the roads but in effect it will be adding 60,000 more house in garden villages and towns, more cars, and more concrete on our green fields. 

“This is more about opening up land for developers to profit than providing a vital service for residents.” 

He said: “As we come out of the Covid pandemic public money will be tight and we need to focus on an economic and public health recovery for all. 

“We need to be concentrating on the most pressing problems of today and instead focus on better, more connected public transport now - not in 10 to 15 years' time." 

Though, in principle not totally opposed to a rapid system, Dr Nik said too much time and money had already been spent on Mayor Palmer’s project - “up to £4m on business plans, consultants and setting up a company to drive the project”. 

The combined authority has set up a delivery company called One CAM, and brought in analysts and experts to assess and help deliver the project.

Before this financial year the combined authority said it had spent about £2.5 million on planning the metro, with a further £10 million budget for the current financial year which ends on March 31.

The Liberal Democrat candidate for the mayoral elections, Aidan Van de Weyer, has already come out against the metro plans, saying too much money is being spent while “crucial elements” are “uncertain or completely unknown”.

The Lib Dems have branded the mayor’s vision as “imaginary bus tunnels”.