Azara Blog: Cambridge County Council releases "congestion" charge survey results

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Date published: 2008/05/06

The Cambridge News says:

Cambridge's controversial congestion charge scheme has been given another thumbs-down.

A public consultation exercise carried out on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council, the body proposing the idea, found that 61 per cent of people who responded to the survey were against it in principle.

However, asked how they would feel if "attractive alternatives" for travelling into the city were in place, a majority of at-home interviewees said they would then support congestion charging.

And people would also be less against road tolls if the money raised were spent on improving public transport, the study found.
Some members of the audience at the presentation - held at New Hall - were critical of the council's public consultation on the controversial scheme.

Douglas de Lacey, of Girton parish council, accused the researchers of feeding answers to the interviewees, and several city councillors asked whether information could be provided on exactly how many city residents took part, and what their responses were to each question.

After the meeting, John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said: "If you ask people hypothetical questions, you get hypothetical answers, and despite what the figures seem to show, I still don't think there is much support for congestion charging. The data, it seems to me, is very flawed."

Of course the survey was flawed. For one thing, it was not representative (being no doubt extremely biased towards the academic middle class who answer surveys). For another, they included cyclists and other irrelevant groups in the survey, which would have seriously biased it towards support for the (so-called) congestion charge. (They hate cars and they won't suffer, so what do they care.)

The county council unfortunately seems still to be under the delusion that central goverment is going to cough up 500 million pounds as a bribe to go forward with this scheme. But it would be ridiculous if central government came anywhere near throwing that much (additional) money at a small provincial town like Cambridge. In any case, any county councillor who votes for this scheme will find that this new tax is not going to be anywhere nearly as popular as suggested by this rigged survey.

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