Azara Blog: Cambridge Transport Commission begins sham public consultation

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Date published: 2009/03/05

The Cambridge News says:

Cambridge is being blackmailed into the congestion charge with a £500 million transport improvement "bribe".

That was the accusation slung at the Government as a public consultation into the road toll was held last night in the city's Guildhall.

There was also concern about the effects of the recession on traffic growth, with the slowdown affecting major housing developments.

A report released to coincide with the meeting shows many residents are baffled as to what the transport improvement plans are.

They have slammed the Cambridgeshire Transport Commission for failing to inform the public how the cash would be used - other than to pay for a congestion charging system in the city.
...
A report released to coincide with the meeting shows many residents are baffled as to what the transport improvement plans are.
...
The report's introduction states:

"Inevitably, given the emotive nature of the issue, there is a huge range of opinion, much of it contradictory. Some of the assertions reported may or may not be accurate: some undoubtedly need to be tested to ensure they are supported by evidence."

The central government bribe is the least of the problems. For one thing the 500 million is just a mythical figure. For another, the (so-called) congestion charge makes no sense for Cambridge. And this consultation is itself just a sham. It was just started to try and provide the Tory politicians who came up with this crackpot idea some political cover. It is obvious that the conclusion will be just what the people who set the commission up want it to be, and they will then claim they are "forced" to introduce the scheme because an "independent" commission found in its favour.

It is hardly surprising that there are "contradictory" opinions. You can find contradictory opinions about anything. The commission may well use this as an excuse when publishing their final report. But the contradictory opinions are not the issue. The most important question is whether the scheme makes any sense, and quite clearly it does not. A secondary concern is what the general public on average thinks, not what the entire distribution of opinions is. Of course this consultation will not determine what the general public on average thinks. All public consultations are heavily biased towards the academic middle class and the academic middle class are heavily biased against cars (at least those driven by other people).

A robot could write the final report of the commission. It is obvious the conclusion will be that the scheme is a jolly good idea with all sorts of weasly caveats (such as that government needs to market the scheme better because the peasants just do not understand) and with the standard line that "tough" decisions need to be made (i.e. car drivers need to be screwed some more, since evidently car drivers should subsidise everyone else's transport).

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