Cambridge city centre congestion – Lewis Herbert on proposed new measures

07:20 Tuesday 13th January 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: Proposals for new transport projects in and around Cambridge have been discussed for the first time by the Greater Cambridge City Deal Joint Assembly. They include bus priority projects on Histon, Milton and Madingley Roads in Cambridge, cycle links between the city and Saffron Walden, Haverhill and Royston, and improvements to the Foxton level crossing. Recommendations will now be made to the City Deal Executive Board to discuss later this month. Lewis Herbert is the Leader of Cambridge City Council. So Lewis, what will you be recommending?
LEWIS HERBERT: Well we’ve got £100 million to spend, and people who are in their cars this morning, particularly people who are listening at home and about to get into their cars, know that we’ve got a massive congestion problem. So we’ll be recommending that we need to have some radical solutions for the city centre. We’ll be recommending that we have to help people with different options for the last two to four miles, so that buses genuinely do leapfrog cars on these roads that are gridlocked. And we’ll be recommending work to win further funding. We’ve got a Science Park station. We’ve got the A14 improvements. But we also need to persuade Government that we need to fund an Addenbrookes station as well.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So Lewis you’ve said you need to ease congestion, and we need radical solutions and we need help for buses, so that people have options when they reach the city centre. have you got anything a bit more specific, a bit more concrete that you are going to be recommending to the City Deal Executive Board?

LEWIS HERBERT: Well you’ve got the list in front of you. These are big schemes. If we change Histon Road, Milton Road, we know that the road coming in from Haverhill is just as bad. So people know that we’ve got a serious peak-time congestion problem. So some of it will be tarmac improvements, improvements for buses. But some of it will have to be a radical look at the city centre. In 2020 we’ll have 10,000 more jobs, and at least 10,000 more homes, and we won’t have one more square metre of road space in the city centre. So there will be change, and that will involve employers. It will particularly involve changing people’s behaviour at the worst congestion times.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And you’re absolutely right, we do have a list in front of me here of lots of projects that you’re hoping to deliver in the first five years of the City Deal programme. We have got Histon Road bus priority, Saffron Walden and Haverhill corridor cycle pedestrian routes, Milton Road bus priority, the Chisholm Trail cycle links and the Chisholm Trail bridge. The list goes on. Are you going to be able to do all of them though, or are you going to have to push some forward first?
LEWIS HERBERT: Well people know that projects like transport take a while. We have to give priority to those roads like Histon Road, Milton Road. The A428, people who know travelling in from Cambourne, it is a nightmare most mornings. So there has to be that change, and we will make those investments. The Government will only give us another £200 million in 2020 if we’ve made major change by 2019. Quite apart from that, people who are getting in their cars this morning, people who need to travel to work by bus this morning, know that we have to sort out the Inner Ring Road. We have to go into a big consultation about the city centre. We just cannot cope with the extra cars. There is not the space for them. So people have to travel differently, and to make that possible we have to make it easy for them.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Lewis we heard earlier from Shelley in Impington on the subject of transport in the Cambridge area. Have a little listen to what she told me.
CALLER: I belong to Dial-a-Ride in Cambridge, and they’re absolutely desperate for money. It’s for people who can’t get on ordinary transport. It’s a marvellous system. It takes you where you want to go to around the town, and I’d be lost without it. It’s the only way to get into town for lots and lots of people.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Will there be any money from this £100 million for community transport like that?
LEWIS HERBERT: Well the money’s for capital Dotty, but the City Council already supports Dial-a-Ride and other schemes, and part of it will continue to be that older people, disabled people, need to get into the city centre. The City Council is already doing an access study to make sure that we make improvements. So there won’t be funding from this, but there will be continued funding for Dial-a-Ride and other means for people to get in.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So it is something you’re bearing in mind.
LEWIS HERBERT: Everybody has to get in, but how do we let older people get in if we’ve got too many four by fours blocking all the roads? So people don’t want the congestion charge, but we have to come up with other schemes that give priorities like extending the bollards in the city centre, so that Dial-a-Ride vehicles and taxis and buses get in, but cars I’m afraid just won’t get the priority.
DOTTY MCLEOD: That’s councillor Lewis Herbert, who is the Leader of Cambridge City Council.