Azara Blog: Money being thrown away on another pointless road pricing study

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Date published: 2006/11/07

The Cambridge Evening News says:

Disgruntled business leaders believe it is a matter of "when" not "if" congestion charging will be introduced in Cambridge after the Government poured another £1 million into developing the scheme.

Cambridgeshire County Council has been awarded £1,055,000 on top of the £385,000 it got in July 2005 to look at whether charging motorists to drive into the city would cut cars and boost public transport.

A charge of £4 has been suggested and the council has asked the Department of Transport for three years' worth of funding. It now has cash to pay for two.

But business leaders have slammed the move saying the Government's decision to pour more money - now £25.5 million across the country - into research means it is a case of "when" not "if" congestion charging will come to Cambridge.

And they say the Government is using it as an excuse not to invest in much needed improvements to the city's transport infrastructure.

Cambridgeshire County Council said the cash, enough to fund two years of work, will fund research into public transport improvements and travel patterns. A progress report will be given to the council's cabinet in spring 2007.

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "What I find difficult is the amount of money spent on study after study, not money to do something practical.

Where we need the money to do something practical, they are not getting on and doing it.

"It must mean it's not a matter of 'if ' but 'when and how'.

They wouldn't be putting that money in if they were considering if it was an option or not.

"Cambridge is seen as one of the key leaders and I would rather wish it wasn't. Business is very concerned about this concept."

But Coun Reynolds, cabinet member for environment and community services, said he was delighted with the investment.

He said: "This is a critical issue in Cambridgeshire where we have a rapidly growing population and thousands of new homes being built in the very near future. Doing nothing is not an option when it comes to tackling the growing challenge of congestion.

"We must undertake thorough investigation of all options, including road-pricing schemes, to see what will deliver the best results for Cambridgeshire as a whole."

David Howarth, MP for Cambridge, said: "Road pricing is something the county council should be interested in. It would be very difficult to improve congestion and travel in Cambridge without it.

"However, it is essential that any money raised through it has to go back into public transport in the city."

Of course it's "when" not "if". The whole country is going that way. The ruling elite have spoken. They wish to kick the working class off the roads, as they have already done in London, so that the rich people of the world can get about more easily. So the only question is if Cambridge is going to get some earlier, inferior and costly technology, as in London. The fact that they are talking about a charge of £4 already means that the answer to this is yes, they are intending to have an access, not a congestion charge. So the next question is where are they going to put up the barriers, at the edge of the city or in the core.

John Bridge is unfortunately correct, this money is wasted. It would have been far better spent on education, which is underfunded in Cambridge. And Reynolds represents Bar Hill, and it is villagers who will suffer much more than the residents of Cambridge, so why is he sticking up two fingers so enthusiastically to his own voters. And "public transport" in Cambridge means Stagecoach. The less said about them the better (they are not one of the better or socially-minded companies on the planet), so why is Howarth so keen that drivers should be subsidising them?

The number one problem with transport in Cambridge is the transport planners, not the drivers. The former have done everything possible to make the situation worse from year to year, and of course blame the latter. If a big store, like John Lewis, leaves Cambridge because the ruling elite have treated shoppers in Cambridge so badly, perhaps the Cambridge ruling elite will wake up and stop treating their customers as scum.

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