Frustration as GCP “plough on regardless”

Yet another day of relentless ignoring of the views of the public by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP). Our colleague Amanda Fuller was in the first part of the meeting at the Guildhall this morning 26th July at 10am, when the meeting started with the appointment of Councillor Francis Burkitt as Chairman – he’s our Madingley, Coton, Barton and Grantchester South Cambs District Councillor, but don’t hold your breath: he supports a concrete busway past Hardwick through the Coton Corridor and the West Fields.
But we are not on our own since South Cambs District Councillor Grenville Chamberlain is opposed as is Cambridgeshire County Councillor Lina Joseph. See below for our future plans, but it probably really is time to contact your local councillors – we’ll get you details.
Amanda had a question about whether the GCP would appoint truly independent consultants to do the new transport study for greater Cambridgeshire which the Mayor and GCP have agreed to commission jointly. We don’t want the officers usual tame consultants such as Atkins or Skanska or Mott Macdonald. Of course we got the usual ‘not really answering the question’ fudge – more on this later.
I joined the meeting at Noon to watch the Executive Board continuing to trample over Milton Road residents while pretending they were wonderfully doing everything the residents wanted. I don’t remember the residents wanting unsafe bus and cycle lane combinations at great expense, to save less than 2 minutes in-bound and just over 4 minutes out-bound by 2031. And it was revealed that in all this, they stopped short of dealing with Mitcham’s Corner, so like the Cambourne to Cambridge Busway proposal, it doesn’t deal with reaching the City Centre.
The meeting continued at 2pm and we then had more of the same fudge, but this time with explanations from the officers that “independent consultants” meant all the ones they were already working with, the ones we are unhappy with.  Councillor Lina Joseph, like Rod Cantrill in the morning session, asked for the whole busway scheme to be paused until the Mayor’s new study was completed and the proposals for very high speed rapid transit (“bullet buses”) were completed.  Ignored.  Helen Bradbury laid out clearly the Local Liaison Forum’s views and, together with Gabriel Fox’s question, challenged the analysis and scoring of the options for busway routes and our alternative schemes.
Now you have to acknowledge when the officers cleverly manoeuvre round objections and Transport Director Chris Tunstall basically said they were ignoring the analysis and scoring, and putting through our Option 6 for evaluation – that’s the on-road bus lane not busway option, possibly tidal, from Madingley Mulch down Madingley Road across the M11 on the existing (widened) bridge to High Cross – so in effect he implied we should back off and wait until September!
That left us in limbo with issues such as bullet buses blasting past Hardwick and Coton at over 100 mph, proposals for a bus terminal on The Backs at Silver Street, and other madnesses just parked, unanswered.
Francis Burkitt has upped the management of the meetings and they did note and discuss the questions and objections and, lo and behold, did deliberate amongst the Board members, and former chairman Lewis Herbert even sounded like he acknowledged some of the issues we raised. But No, they voted to press on regardless, ignoring all the objections and challenges.
They even ignored the Joint Assembly recommendation to remove Crome Lea from the Park+Ride sites being considered. Again Transport Director Chris Tunstall was on manoeuvres with a frankly confusing circular argument that appeared to say that if they had thought Crome Lea was a possible site earlier it had to stay under consideration – quite how you eliminate rejected options under this thinking, I don’t know. I thought the Joint Assembly had comprehensively rejected it, saying they would never vote for it.
We retired angry after 3pm vowing that we have to escalate our challenge to a much louder public scale.  That meant we missed Councillor Burkitt accusing Wendy Blythe, of the combined residents associations (FECRA), of “fake news” when she referred to the proposals for a bus terminal on The Backs at Silver Street – it was in the Board’s own papers circulated for the meeting.  Save the West Fields confirms this was already in an Atkins study dated April 2017.  Yet more reasons to be angry.
So a date for your diary: Protest March Saturday 2nd September 11am starting from Queens Road (The Backs) into the Market Square. We need to be big and loud. More details to come. But please, you plan to come.

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