08:18 Friday 11th October 2013
BBC Radio Cambridge
[D]OTTIE MCLEOD: Lots of other councils giving money towards the A14 upgrade. East Cambridgeshire District Council paying £1 million; Huntingdonshire District Council are paying £5 million; Fenland District Council contributing £800,000; Peterborough City Council planning to contribute £1.5 million; Cambridge City Council, the city that the A14 really goes closest to, apart from possibly Huntingdon, they’ve said that their wallets will be staying absolutely closed. Tim Ward joins me. He’s the Executive Councillor for Planning at Cambridge City Council. Tim. It’s a farce, isn’t it, if Peterborough contribute and Cambridge don’t?
TIM WARD: I don’t see why you would call it a farce. What the people of Cambridge told us very clearly is that they’re already going to be paying for the road in three ways. Firstly through their general taxation; secondly through their county council tax; and thirdly through the toll. And they don’t want to pay a fourth way through their City Council council tax.
DOTTIE MCLEOD: Do you want the road to be upgraded? If it comes down to whether your contribution is going to make it happen or not, will you be prepared to stump up any cash at all?
TIM WARD: Our contribution or lack of will not make a difference as to whether it happens or not, because we’ve sorted that out with the County Council, and they’re quite confident they can raise the local contributions the Government required without any money from Cambridge City Council.
DOTTIE MCLEOD: What about this possibility of giving money through the City Council giving money but then asking for local exemptions from the toll, which South Cambridgeshire District Council already said before today they were going to do. And Marco Cereste just now before our travel news saying that people in Peterborough will not have to pay the toll. Would you consider doing something similar?
TIM WARD: Well I would say good luck to them. I personally can’t see the Government wearing that one.
DOTTIE MCLEOD: You can’t see it happening?
TIM WARD: I can’t see it happening.
DOTTIE MCLEOD: You think it’s pie in the sky thinking.
TIM WARD: That is my personal guess. Yes. I don’t have any evidence one way or the other, other than when a congestion charge in Cambridge was proposed a few years ago, Cambridge City Council or some people said maybe Cambridge residents should be exempt, and the Government just laughed at us. I’m not quite sure why they would just change their mind when it came to the A14.
DOTTIE MCLEOD: Realistically though Tim you’ve got so many people in Cambridge who use the A14, is it not just a ridiculous situation? If this road gets upgraded, you get a fancy new road, and people in Cambridge’s flagship city are the only ones who haven’t contributed to it in that way.
TIM WARD: Well we will be contributing, because if you look at where the road ends, the new road will end at Cambridge, as a extra few lanes of traffic, with nowhere to go except into Cambridge. And some of them will be doing that, because one of the reasons for upgrading the road is so that car commuters from Northstowe and other new developments will be able to drive into Cambridge in the rush hour every morning. And when they get to Cambridge, there will be nowhere for them to go except sit in a traffic jam. So what Cambridge City Council is doing is making a fund, which is about equivalent to what Peterborough is spending, even though we’re much smaller, one and a half million over 25 years, which we will use to improve conditions for traffic within Cambridge. Because somehow, and this is quite extraordinary really, if you think about it, the implications for Cambridge in terms of extra congestion and so on have been completely left out of the Government’s A14 scheme. So we reckon we’re going to have to cope with that on our own.
DOTTIE MCLEOD: So that’s your alternative, spending on sustainable transport?
TIM WARD: Well it’s spending on whatever we need. We don’t know exactly what we will need yet, because we haven’t had the necessary data from Government.
DOTTIE MCLEOD: Tim Ward, Executive Councillor for Planning on Cambridge City Council. Thank you very much for joining us.