Mayor Dr Nik Johnson to overhaul the county’s Local Transport Plan

…which was overhauled by the previous Mayor Mr Palmer when he inherited Cambridgeshire County Council’s plan of 2015 after ministers transferred powers from county councils to metro mayors in the areas that had combined authorities established.

The original plan was to have lasted from 2011-2031. For whatever reason, it was published in 2015. Austerity can’t have helped. You can read the plans as follows:

On 28 July 2021 the Combined Authority Board agreed with Mayor Dr Nik Johnson to overhaul the existing Local Transport Plan. This was on the back of a number of developments:

  1. The election of the new mayor himself with a very different approach and policy objectives
  2. The publication of the Independent Climate Commission for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough’s report, commissioned by the previous mayor – you can read the 127 page report here.
  3. The publication of the new statutory guidance on cycling infrastructure by the Department for Transport in July 2020, which you can read here.
  4. The publication of the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan on 14 July 2021, which you can read here.
  5. The announcement of a new transport funding package for walking and cycling infrastructure, which was announced here – and for which the £1m+ element for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough ***is currently being withheld by ministers*** who have said that further reassurances are required. Which has caused a mini-political storm in both Cambridge and Peterborough as local activists try to find out who was to blame for ministers holding back funding. Note the holding statement here.

This by the Cambridge Cycling Campaign.

You can read the text of their letter to the Transport Minister of State (for Rail, Cycling, and Walking) here.

This from the Peterborough Cycling Forum

Both groups have written to the Minister – I expect they will get responses back from civil servants on the Minister’s behalf, which is standard practice. Had they got in touch from their local Members of Parliament with a request to forward the correspondence with a covering letter on top, the Minister would have been duty bound to have signed off the response. Which means the issue would have been raised further up the line. Something to note in future – it’s a very simple request for the staff of MPs – draft a letter for the MP to sign that reads something like:

“Dear Minister, my local cycling campaign has written to me about a number of issues on The Government’s cycling and walking policies. Please see the enclosed letter – grateful if you could respond to the points they have raised please. Kind regards, MP.”

And that’s it.

If you want chapter and verse, see paras 7, and 34. on Guidance to Handling Correspondence by the Cabinet Office.

This is the convention that underpins an MP’s accountability to their constituents, and Ministerial accountability to Parliament – and MPs acting on behalf of constituents.

Meanwhile, at the Greater Cambridge Partnership…

There’s still time to respond to their cycling infrastructure consultation (Ends 16 August 2021 – see here)

Above – which of the pink routes should be improved first? Or are there better routes not yet identified?

Then they have to figure out what to do with Cambridge Eastern Access – without the CAM Metro, and so far without the Cambridge Connect plan either. They also have to come up with a solution to the final mile of the busways – both Cambourne to Cambridge, and Cambridge South East Transport.

The Executive Board of the GCP is now made up of:

  • Cllr Neil Gough (Chair, LibDems – Cottenham)- Deputy Leader South Cambridgeshire District Council
  • Cllr Dave Baigent – (Labour – Romsey) Cambridge City Council
  • Cllr Elisa Meschini (Vice Chair, Labour – King’s Hedges)- Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Austen Adams– Chair of the Combined Authority Business Board
  • Professor Phil Allmendinger – University of Cambridge

The Assembly of the GCP has the following councillors:

  • Cllr Tim Bick (Chair – Lib Dems, Market)– Cambridge City Council
  • Cllr Rosy Moore (Vice Chair – Labour, Coleridge)- Cambridge City Council
  • Cllr Simon Smith – (Labour – Castle) Cambridge City Council
  • Cllr Eileen Wilson – (Lib Dems – Cottenham) South Cambridgeshire District Council
  • Cllr Ian Sollom – (Lib Dems – Harston and Comberton) South Cambridgeshire District Council
  • Cllr Heather Williams – (Cons – The Mordens) South Cambridgeshire District Council
  • Cllr Alex Beckett – (Liberal Democrats – Queen Edith’s) Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Cllr Brian Milnes – (Liberal Democrats – Sawston & Shelfords) Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Cllr Neil Shailer – (Labour – Romsey) Cambridgeshire County Council

Any concerns or issues? Drop your local councillor an email https://www.writetothem.com/

Who built the Arc?”

See the Government’s announcement here. Or watch the video below:

The consultation link is here – and part of me is tempted to respond:

“Well I for one thoroughly welcome the opportunity for safe-as-fortresses Tory constituencies to be covered in concrete in order to make extra profits for our donor community in the real estate sector following the very tough times over the past two years! And everyone must make sacrifices!”

In the grand scheme of things the entire concept feels like it’s the developers talking. It’s the wrong solution to the many problems we face, and to deliver that amount of construction in the face of a climate emergency doesn’t feel right. Far better to significantly increase the transport and infrastructure investment in the north of England – including but not limited to electrifying the rail network and building a new generation of municipal light rail links. Such a programme of investment cannot be delivered and micromanaged from London. Something like that cannot go ahead without an overhaul of local government. But these are not on the horizon. Instead the oxbridge obsession continues – even though Cambridge is a very different place to the ones some of the Conservative politicians studied at during their university days in the last millennium. Oxford? You’ll have to ask someone over there.

Either way, I think the unfolding climate emergency will have far more of an impact of what happens to the proposals than any strategy or framework.

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

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