Lucy Frazer, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, and minister for housing and planning, writes for the Ely Standard.


"Ely Standard readers will be all too well aware of the Greater Cambridge Partnership's proposals to introduce a traffic congestion charge in Cambridge city and parts of South Cambridgeshire.

More than 23,000 people from across our region responded to the GCP's public consultation. During my seven years as the MP for the local area, I have never known a local consultation generating such an active response.

Having scrutinised the GCP's proposals and listened to the views of my constituents through my own survey, I cannot support the congestion charge plans.

A congestion charge would have a profound impact on large numbers of individuals, families, and local businesses. Respondents to my own survey overwhelmingly oppose the introduction of a charge - at 92 per cent - and the many objections will be familiar to those following the debate.  

There are key issues with the charge. Why are important services like Addenbrooke’s Hospital, included in the charging zone?

How will exemptions, discounts and reimbursements work? Why are vital groups of workers, such as NHS workers, carers, and charity workers, not exempted from the charge?

Respondents have also highlighted the GCP’s unrealistic traffic reduction target and the damaging impact the congestion charge could have on local businesses if visitors feel restricted from entering the charging zone.

Since becoming an MP in 2015, I have worked hard to improve local transport infrastructure, campaigning for upgrades to the A10 and the reopening of Soham Railway Station in 2021.

Recently I have been working hard to protect our buses after Stagecoach’s decision to axe or significantly alter almost two dozen routes across our area last October.

The GCP proposes to use the revenue raised from a congestion charge to improve the region’s bus network, but their plans would not deliver the transport improvements my constituents need.

There are countless everyday situations where bus travel would not be suitable. For example, is it a realistic ask to ask a working parent with two children, one at primary school and another at a nursery in a different location to travel from a rural area by bus?  Will they be able to afford the £25 charge?

Fundamentally, the GCP is seeking to charge people for driving their vehicles into Cambridge city and parts of South Cambridgeshire without offering a viable travel alternative. I cannot support plans that would leave so many of my constituents worse off.

When the GCP launched their consultation last year they told us: “Feedback from the public is vital to shape these plans…” The public have given their feedback, and I hope that the GCP will reflect seriously on the concerns raised by my constituents and recognise that their proposals are not workable.