Transport plan ‘is a war on motorists,’ says Fenlan councillor as it is again voted down
A Fenland District councillor slammed a proposed transport strategy for the county as it was again voted down.
As the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s (CPCA) transport strategy was rejected by its board on Wednesday, Conservative councillor Chris Boden repeated his contention that the plan is tantamount to a “war on motorists”.
The wide-ranging plans were wordlessly vetoed by Conservative Peterborough City Council (PCC) leader Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald. As the head of a transport authority (PCC), he was one of two CPCA board members with the ability to reject the region-wide strategy outright, which he did without justification.
Explicitly asked to comment on the strategy – a comprehensive overview of the future of walking, cycling, buses, rail and car use in the region, Cllr Fitzgerald refused.
But his contention is, nevertheless, obvious: the document contains reference to “fiscal measures” as an option to “help manage demand” of private car use.
This is a watered down version of the previous wording – that “road user or congestion charging” could help drive down private car use – in an earlier version of the plan vetoed by Cllr Fitzgerald in June.
The Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP) is a strategic document, with numerous appendices dealing with each individual part of Cambridgeshire.
It underpins much of what CPCA’s leader, Labour mayor Dr Nik Johnson, wants to achieve during his tenure with regard to creating “an inclusive, integrated, and sustainable transport network”.
But it needs the support of the region’s transport authorities (PCC and Cambridgeshire County Council): while CPCA can allocate funding to transport schemes and work on them with constituent councils, it cannot impose policies on them.
The lack of support drew ire from Cambridge City Council representative Lucy Nethsingha (Liberal Democrats), who said: “Not only is this kind of junking of any pretence that the Conservatives might have had to take any interest in climate change, but it’s also a massive betrayal of the very large number of our population of people who cannot afford to drive or are unable to drive.”
Cllr Nethsingha added that she believes it’s being rejected for “political reasons”, stressing that road charging can’t be forced on the region.
However, Cllr Anna Bailey (Conservatives), said that “a vote for this document is a vote for road charging”, which is among the “negative, punitive, regressive measures” to reduce car use.
In a statement issued after the meeting, Dr Johnson said the CPCA will vote on the LTCP again, adding: “I’ve every confidence that we will bring this decision back for approval at the earliest opportunity.”