Calls to oppose city congestion fee waived away by councillors

Cambridgeshire County Council meeting March 15 2022

Calls for Cambridgeshire County Council to oppose any introduction of a congestion charge have failed to get enough support following a meeting. - Credit: Cambridgeshire County Council

Calls for Cambridgeshire County Council to oppose any introduction of a congestion charge have failed to get enough support. 

At a meeting today (Tuesday), councillors arguing against a congestion charge in the Greater Cambridge area said any such measure would have the most impact on low income workers who have to travel into the city. 

Other councillors argued that the focus should be on improving access to public transport and other sustainable ways of travelling into Cambridge. 

The possibility of a congestion charge was one of the suggestions made by the Greater Cambridge Partnership to raise funds for improvements to public transport, and reduce congestion. 

Councillor Alan Sharp presented the motion calling for the county council to oppose a congestion charge at the meeting. 

Cllr Alan Sharp at Cambridgeshire County Council meeting

Councillor Alan Sharp presented the motion calling for the county council to oppose a congestion charge. - Credit: Cambridgeshire County Council

He said it was important that councillors considered the impact of a charge on the whole of Cambridgeshire, and not just the Greater Cambridge area. 

Cllr Sharp said many people who work in Cambridge live outside of the city as they cannot afford to live in the city. 

Most Read

He argued a congestion charge “disproportionately” targeted those on lower incomes, highlighting in particular those who work unsocial hours and may need to rely on driving to and from work. 

Cllr Sharp also argued any charge would have a negative impact on the number of visitors to the city, which he said would in turn adversely impact businesses as well. 

His motion was supported by some others who echoed his concerns over the potential impact a charge would have on people on lower incomes. 

However, others argued that the motion was ‘too simple’ and that it would limit the options in dealing with a ‘complex issue’. 

Councillor Alex Beckett said the proposed motion offered no “ideas or solutions” to the problems being faced. 

He said peak time traffic in Cambridge is expected to increase by 30 per cent in the next 10 years and said that 45 percent of the city’s emissions were caused by transport. 

Cllr Alex Beckett at Cambridgeshire County Council meeting

Councillor Alex Beckett said the proposed motion offered no “ideas or solutions” to the problems being faced. - Credit: Cambridgeshire County Council

Cllr Beckett also highlighted the cost increases of buying a car, as well as the cost of fuel and insurance.  

He said it was a ‘simple fact that’ the poorest in society could not afford to own or run a car and were therefore reliant on public transport. 

“It is obvious to me that the people of Cambridgeshire demand a better bus service, a bus service that is fit for purpose and gives them options,” he added. 

“A bus service that allows people to reduce their reliance on a car and gets them where they want to go, when they need to go there. 

“A bus service that is cheap, reliable and which genuinely helps the poor, forcing people into cars does not help the poorest.” 

Councillor Elisa Meschini added that there is not a congestion charge scheme currently ‘on the table’, and said the question was just being asked. 

When put to a vote, the motion failed to get enough support with a majority of councillors voting against it.