Mayoral candidates debate the Cambridge Light Rail Underground Metro proposals

With the elections coming up in six months time, the declared candidates are being questioned on what their proposals are for the future of a scheme that if built, could last long into the future

Back in 2016 a number of campaign groups in and around Cambridge got together to debate the Greater Cambridge City Deal/Partnership. A reminder:

Above – vox-pop interviews from a range of people who attended back in 2016.

The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Mayoral Election 2021

“Mayor? I thought we already had one in the Guildhall!”

The mayoralty of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough wasn’t the result of some popular demand from the masses for a new form of governance. Let’s face it, most people don’t spend their time worrying about the internal mechanics of local government in Cambridgeshire – they’ve got more interesting and important things to do.

As far as I am aware, the incumbent Mayor James Palmer will be re-standing, with Cllr Aidan van de Weyer of the Liberal Democrats, & Dr Nik Johnson of the Labour Party opposing him.

The first proposal for a light rail for Greater Cambridge – Cambridge Connect

See for the full details.

When I first saw the proposals from Dr Colin Harris, my immediate reaction to the politicians was “So when are we going to get this then?”

You can see a more detailed view of Dr Harris’s map here. I also maintain the project’s facebook page which is here. Dr Colin Harris is featured in the video report on the CAM Metro in this piece from March 2019 by ITV News Anglia. Scroll down to the second embedded media item.

These proposals changed the conversation over the past few years from the principle of whether we should have a new mass-transit system that involves tunnels, to where the tunnels and lines should go. Here’s Mayor James Palmer with his proposals for CAM Metro.

Above – Mayor James Palmer on CAM Metro.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership – which now has the Mayor on its board, and which switched from a voting membership 2 Conservative and one Labour local council leaders to one for each of Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Labour, following the 2018 local council elections in South Cambridgeshire, produced this video:

Above – a publicity video from the Greater Cambridge Partnership.

Not without controversy – the big consultancy spend

The proposals from Mayor Palmer involve forming a separate company similar to other large infrastructure projects. (See his announcement here). However, such spending commitments have come under scrutiny from GCP Board Member Cllr Aidan van de Weyer, who represents South Cambridgeshire District Council, where he is deputy leader. In an article by Ben Hatton, Local Democracy Reporter embedded with the Cambridge News, Cllr van de Weyer said that far more information needs to be published before committing such sums.

Above – screengrab of Ben Hattons article here.

Labour’s view – Dr Nik Johnson

In the grand scheme of things, it’s too early in the campaign for the candidates to be coming up with fully-costed and detailed manifestos. All three candidates have had their hands full with the county’s response to the Corona Virus – Dr Johnson on the front line at Hinchingbrooke Hospital near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. He has, however indicated that he would like such a metro/light rail system to stretch beyond the immediate vicinity of Cambridge & district.

Dr Johnson followed this up further on methods.

Some of the future phases were included in a recent update by Dr Harris on his Cambridge Connect model.

Above – the regional plan for the Cambridge Connect plan – in more detail here.

Finally, on an issue separate to transport, but nonetheless timely,

Mr Hatton was quoting Mayor Palmer during his appearance in front of the House of Commons Select Committee on Housing, Communities, & Local Government.

You can view the footage of Mayor Palmer being cross-examined by MPs here. He appeared with Mayor James O’Driscoll of the North Tyneside Combined Authority.

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