Next Local Liaison Forum Meeting

In the lead up to the Local Liaison Forum’s meeting on Thursday 2nd Feb (7pm in the Council Chambers at Shire Hall) in which they will present an alternative to the City Deal’s preferred Option 3/3A, we thought we should re-share the epic poem of Dr Gabriel Fox, “To Ada Lovelace“! Drawing on the works of Byron and Brookes, Dr Fox eloquently rubbishes the City Deal’s busway plans and calls for an on-road solution.

The LLF meeting is open to members of the public so do go along and hear about a better plan than the City Deal’s preferred option.

City Deal are refusing to allow public scrutiny

Reasonable and pertinent questions from members of the public are being refused for submission at the City Deal Executive Board meeting. The following three questions regarding the West Cambridge busway were submitted to the Executive Board to be asked at the meeting tomorrow (Weds 25th Jan). They have been refused on the grounds that the West Cambridge busway is not specifically an agenda item. However, there are few opportunities in which the busway is an agenda item and therefore few opportunities for the public to (re-)state that they do not agree with the Executive Board’s preferred solution. Additionally you might notice that the second and third questioners actually deal (ironically) with the very subject of public scrutiny as well as the West Cambridge busway!

Allan Treacy: On what grounds could the City Deal executive contemplate backing a £207m off road solution if there is a circa £40m on-road alternative? Should not the City Deal be prioritising the saving of £160m of public money to be put towards more progressive solutions for the area’s transport challenges?

Alistair Burford: The protocol for public questions dated 10 November 2016 states that public questions are a fundamental part of an open and transparent democratic process.
I raised a question at the Joint Assembly on 18 January about an Atkins Report on Park and Ride locations dated September 2015.  This report has not been made available to the public and quite clearly identifies Crome Lea farm as one of three sites around Madingley Mulch.  Yet, the officers saw fit not to include this information in the public consultation and Crome Lea was only identified in public documents over a year later in September 2016 when it emerged as their preferred location.
My questions are:
1. Residents have raised serious concerns about a flawed consultation only to be told that it is not an agenda item. When members of the public raise concerns of this nature does the Board not think that they should be listened to regardless of whether it’s an agenda item or not?
2. Will the Board (not officers) undertake to investigate my concerns and provide a full written response?
3. Mr Menzies stated at the Joint Assembly that all Atkins reports are available to the public, would he mind providing the link to the 2 Atkins reports on the Park and Ride Locations?

Marilyn Treacy: Many Coton residents are dismayed by the stance that the City Deal executive has taken in avoiding answering their questions submitted by email or in a public forum.
If the residents of Coton do not receive adequate answers to their questions regarding the lack of transparency in factors leading to option 3/3a being chosen as the preferred option they may have no alternative but to take legal action. What action will the City Deal take to avoid this scenario?

This most recent example of the suppression of public scrutiny, followed the farce of last week’s Joint Assembly meeting in which public questions were grouped together, cut short and then not answered. You can watch it here.

Economic Justification for Option 3/3A is flawed

Cambridge Credible Transport have carried out a critique of the economic case for the off-road busway in conjunction with an economic expert. Key conclusions include:

  • The number of additional jobs attributable to the construction of the busway appears to be over-stated. Therefore the Gross Value Added (GVA) figure used to justify the selection of Option 3/3A has been hugely over-estimated.
  • Of the three considered options, Option 3/3A constitutes the lowest value for money.
  • An improved on-road design (such as the one currently being worked up by the LLF) which gives the buses greater priority would narrow the (already small) gap in time/cost benefits.
  • The Western busway routes contribute a minimal share of the overall target jobs for the Greater Cambridge region. This adds weight to the Cambridge Credible Transport argument to support a scheme that would cost c£42m rather than c£207m.

Overall the selection of Option 3/3A on economic grounds is flawed.

The Mott MacDonald report for the Greater Cambridge City Deal can be found here.

The critical review can be found here.

Hundreds turn out to protest

Hundreds of impassioned Cambridgeshire residents turned out to join the protest march against the proposed West Cambridge busway. Demonstrators processed from the Backs, over Garret Hostel Bridge before completing a lap of the market square. There were speeches and songs outside the Senate House, the nominal centre of the University, before the march continued along Kings Parade and Silver Street, returning to the Backs.

The Christmas shoppers heard our message. The slightly bemused tourists heard our message. City Deal, have you heard the message?

  • We are here to protest against these idiotic proposals for the busway…
  • There are excellent alternatives using existing infrastructure and it’s a scandal that they have not been properly assessed. Cllr Helen Bradbury, Coton Parish Council and chair of West Cambridge Local Liaison Forum
  • This is a fight and we need to be a strong voice against the City Deal’s campaign to put a bus route across the West Fields. Cllr Rod Cantrill, Lib Dems – Newnham
  • People don’t demonstrate when things are going well and when they are being listened to. Cllr Bridget Smith, Lib Dems – Gamlingay
  • Although we want to see improvements in public transport, this can not be done at the sacrifice of the local environment and the important green spaces for the people of Cambridge. Stuart Tuckwood, Cambridge Green Party

The speeches, filmed by Anthony Carpen, can be viewed here.

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Fit-for-purpose solutions

Cambridge Credible Transport passionately believes that Cambridge can grow with environmentally friendly, sustainable, solutions suitable for the future beyond 2020.  There is a danger in implementing yesterday’s solutions tomorrow. We need to manage traffic and air quality while retaining the special place that is Cambridge and its environs.

We believe that:

  • High quality sustainable transport options are required between Cambourne and Cambridge
  • Sustainable transport options must work for residents of all the villages and not just the larger residential centres such as Cambourne
  • Any short to medium term solutions must be compatible with long term plans for a city-wide sustainable transport network
  • Segregated provision for cyclists and pedestrians are the best solutions.
  • Public money must be spent cost-effectively to provide healthy affordable solutions
  • The essential environment of Cambridge, especially to the west, where fields have always been close to the heart of the city, must be protected and retained
  • We can make better planned use of the existing roads, sometimes with bus lanes, possibly tidal bus lanes in some places, certainly on the A1303 into Cambridge.

Present plans being proposed by Greater Cambridge City Deal would lead to hundreds of large buses crowding into Cambridge in the rush hours.  While no one is sure where and how they could be accommodated, the likely pollution and traffic jams are simply incredible prospects.

We need a credible solution.