Azara Blog: One Cambridge business claims it's leaving town because of the congestion charge

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Date published: 2007/10/11

The Cambridge News says:

Fears of a mass exodus of Cambridge businesses have been played down as a city firm relocates to escape the congestion charge.

Solicitors Miller Sands, based in Regent Street, says the prospect of a charge was the final straw.

Coun Shona Johnstone, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said she did not expect an exodus as the council would enter into full consultation with businesses and the general public.
Senior partner of Miller Sands, Julian Landy, said clients found it difficult enough to get to and park at its city centre offices already.

He said if visitors have to pay the congestion charge on top then the firm's clientele would dwindle.

Mr Landy said: "I think there will be other businesses following us out of the city. I know it is not certain, but it looks like it will go through. I just don't know what will happen to the centre of Cambridge.

"The Grand Arcade and the return of Robert Sayle is good, but that is shopping. I don't now what will happen to firms like ours."

John Bridge, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "I don't think the council understands the fact that we should be making life easier for businesses. If we make it harder they will vote with their feet.

"We are worried that the congestion charge will force people to work outside the city.

"I think it is premature to say it will create an exodus, and I hope that other companies will wait and see how our discussion goes with the county council."

One small firm leaving means very little. But many small firms have already left the centre of Cambridge the last decade, to be replaced with shops and restaurants. The congestion charge (well, tax) will actually hurt businesses at the edge of town more than businesses in the middle, because for most people there is some kind of viable alternative to the car to get into the centre of town, but there is no sane alternative to the car (i.e. without taking hours to get to work) to get to work on the edge of the city. The Science Park area will probably be hit the hardest. They are getting the guided bus, but that will be of use to only a narrow band of households. Business parks outside the congestion zone will benefit the most.

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