Hannah Brown Profile picture
Jun 8 110 tweets 17 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Hi everyone, this afternoon I am watching the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s joint assembly meeting where the results of the ‘Making Connections’ consultation are due to be discussed.
There are a few other items on the agenda which are due to be discussed first, including a progress report on the GCP’s projects, and a report on the Bottisham, Swaffham and St Ives Greenways. Here is a link to the full agenda: cambridgeshire.cmis.uk.com/ccc_live/Meeti…
According to the agenda the consultation results are due to be debated in the second part of the meeting, which will be “no earlier than 1.30pm”.
The meeting is about to look at the quarterly progress report which gives a brief update on progress for each of the GCP’s projects.
A couple of highlights from the report include a delay to the Cambridge Southeast Transport (CSET) Phase 1, due to the planning process taking “longer than originally envisioned”.
The second phase of the Chisholm Trail was due to be completed this year, but is now expected to be delivered in 2024.
Here is a screenshot of the overall table from the agenda papers 👇 Image
Helen Valentine, university representative, has asked for a “fullish update” to be presented to the meeting on the Chisholm Trail and said she had “lost track why we have nearly stopped”.
Peter Blake, the Transport Director, said he is happy to provide a written update, but said the delay is due to discussion with the rail authority about access to land to finalise the route alignment.
Councillor Paul Bearpark has asked why the Waterbeach Station relocation is listed ‘green’ for being on track to complete in 2025, but as ‘red’ in the finance table. He highlighted that Waterbeach New Town development was “contingent” on the relocation.
The report states: “Work has progressed but has not cost as much as was expected with an underspend of £765k at year-end. Therefore, the scheme is under budget, this has not impacted progress...
"...The next stage will be completion of the preliminary design, scheduled for the end of 2023.”
Meeting is moving on to the Greenways papers - members are going to hear the public questions on this item first.
First question is being read out 👇 Image
Second question is being read out on the questioner's behalf 👇 Image
And the third public question on this item 👇 Image
Cllr Alex Bulat, from Cambridgeshire County Council said, the impact of the Greenways was a big issue in her division. She said the "long history" of issues around Riverside and concerns about safety were highlighted to her when she was elected in 2021...
...She asked the GCP to continue to listen to people in the area to make sure a project is delivered that "actually reflects the concerns of local residents".
Peter Blake said delivering the Greenways network was not a "one size fits all" and that he was happy to commit again to engaging with people in order to come up with Greenways that "respond to local neighbourhood issues".
Councillor Jean Glasberg, from Cambridge City Council, said she welcomed the active travel, but highlighted concerns had been raised about the width of the Greenways in some areas, and said there were concerns about priority being given to cyclists...
She said she supported improvements for cyclists, but said it should not come at the expense of pedestrians.
Mr Blake said the Greenways are being designed to meet 'appropriate local and national standards', and said the plans will also go through an independent road safety assessment to ensure what is built is safe.
Councillor Paul Bearpark highlighted two junctions on the proposed Bottisham Greenway and asked if they could be looked at again. Mr Blake said he would take those actions away with him.
The issue of maintenance of the Greenways has been raised again (it has come up at previous discussions around the Greenways). Mr Blake said the GCP is in "positive and lively" discussions with the county council about maintenance.
Councillor Simon Smith said the members had been told for two years that there were "active and positive" discussions taking place. He said now they were getting to the point of "millions being committed" it was now "appropriate and timely to bring these discussions to a head".
Cllr Smith asked how the GCP could commit "so much money if there is not going to be the money to maintain the infrastructure". Mr Blake said he will prepare a report on maintenance plans for the next meeting.
The meeting is now going to have a 30 minute break before beginning discussion on the consultation item.
The meeting has started up again.
The chair Cllr Tim Bick has made a reminder of the joint assembly's role to offer scrutiny, and that any decisions will be made by the executive board, which is made up of members of the county council, the city council, and South Cambs District Council.
The joint assembly is now going to hear the public questions relating to the 'Making Connections' consultation.
First question 👇 Image
Second question 👇 Image
Third question 👇 Image
Responding to the first question Lynne Miles, director of city access, said a workplace parking levy has been considered and assessed before but had been rejected. She said the revenue raised from a charge like this would not be able to support the wider scheme on its own.
Responding to the second question, Ms Miles said that care is taken to ensure the integrity of information published by the GCP. She said the work was also independently audited, and hoped this process would "ensure trust" in the GCP's work.
Responding to the third question Ms Miles said some revenue from the proposed Sustainable Travel Zone road charge would be able to fund 'ongoing support for innovations described in the question'.
Fourth question 👇 Image
Fifth question 👇 Image
Sixth question 👇 Image
Addressing comments about support for locally controlled bus services, Ms Miles said the STZ proposal was one option to provide the "security" of a locally controlled funding resource to fund public transport.
Addressing the comments raising concerns about the impact on businesses, Ms Miles said the concerns raised in the consultation have been flagged to the GCP members and would be considered if the plans progress.
Seventh question 👇 Image
Final public question 👇 Image
Ms Miles is now presenting the main report. Here is the slide being shared with the meeting setting out some of the challenges facing the area 👇 Image
Some of the options previously considered by the GCP but discounted 👇 Image
Slide setting out the main points of the proposals which were consulted on by the GCP 👇 Image
The proposed discounts and exemptions to the congestion charge 👇 Image
Some points about who responded to the consultation. Ms Miles said the GCP was pleased to have got the largest response it had ever had from young people. Image
Support for other active transport improvements, but less support for car clubs 👇 Image
Most people opposed to the STZ 👇 Image
But was supported more by younger people who responded 👇 Image
Breakdown of support for the STZ by those inside the proposed zone and those outside of it 👇 Image
Ms Miles said about half of people who oppose a road charge still support the bus improvements 👇 Image
Key issues following the consultation that are being highlighted ahead of the member discussion 👇 Image
Ms Miles is explaining that modifications can be made to the proposals. Here is a bit of what the report says are the options on this 👇 Image
In the discussion section now. Cllr Katie Thornburrow has asked if the bus services could be aligned with train times, or even aligned with nurse work shift schedules. She said: "Is that sort of connected thinking possible to give real confidence buses can be...
...really reliable when people need them." Mr Blake explained it would be possible under bus franchising, which the Combined Authority is looking at, as he said it would give "public accountability and decision making" over the network.
Helen Valentine, university representative, has said she feels the "status quo" is not an option. She said: "We do need to take some radical steps to improve our city in the future."...
...She said there was clearly "strong feelings" about the proposed road charge, but she did not think the overall proposals should be "abandoned all together" after all the consultation that has taken place.
Parts of a statement from Cllr Heather Williams has been read out to the meeting. She said things had changed, including covid, war in Europe, and the cost of living crisis, and therefore "introducing a charge in the near future is an error of judgement".
Cllr Katie Thornburrow said many people felt the proposed road charge came "out of the blue" and asked why the GCP thought fewer people took part in previous consultations that took place to develop the plans.
Ms Miles said it is "always difficult to engage the public in consultations". She said previously the GCP had found people said the ideas were "interesting", but had asked for more "tangible" plans. Ms Miles said something "tangible" was presented and "people picked up on that".
Cllr Neil Shailer has raised the issue of growth in the area. He said people can think planning for growth makes growth, but said the area is not a "gated community". He said: "We need to spell out the fact that we are planning to create a situation that is better...
"...for people already here, a greener more sustainable area. It is not about creating or driving growth."
Cllr Tim Bick has asked members to share how they have interpreted the consultation responses and what they believe the GCP is being told.
Cllr Graham Wilson said he "struggled" to work out how people who oppose the road charge but support bus improvements want to see it funded.
Cllr Annika Osborne said she took away that there was a "lack of public trust in the current bus network". She said they needed to ensure there was a bus service in place that people could trust...
...She said: "There is no point moving forward in the process when the bus network does not support it."
In a statement read out to members, Cllr Heather Williams said her main take away was the opposition to road charging and said to still move forward would be a "grave error of judgement".
Karen Kennedy, a university representative, highlighted how the many younger people had showed support of a road charge, and said they had to think about that as "that is the future of our city and our region".
A few members have raised that some of those who said they opposed the congestion charge in the consultation were open to changes to the plans potentially changing their mind.
Discussion taking place about exemptions to the charge for people living in the city. Some concerns have been raised about treating people differently. No one has spoken in specifically in support of this change.
Discussing the impact on businesses of the proposals. Cllr Paul Bearpark has said he would like to see more information about the cost to small businesses, but also any benefits arising from reduced congestion.
Cllr Neil Shailer referenced that there had been comments about impact on deliveries, but said on the "other side of the coin" the proposals aimed to "move more people in and out of Cambridge", which he said could benefit businesses.
Cllr Simon Smith said they needed to "champion the needs of small businesses in the city", and said the city community relies on the services. He said the GCP needed to give a "clear positive response to the issues raised by the businesses in the city".
Claire Ruskin, business representative, said this was an area she believed there needed to be "some concessions". She said: "There are a few things where we need builders...
"..., need to have concrete lorries be in the right place at the right time, they cannot all be in after dark. But we do not want delivery lorries blocking up East Road."
Members have discussed possibility of exempting electric cars from the charge. Points raised that these cars will still contribute to congestion in the city. A couple members have said currently electric cars are mainly owned by "rich people" at the moment.
Some support for discounts or exemptions for electric bikes has been voiced.
Members are discussing potentially changing the time of the proposed road charge. Currently it has been proposed to last from 7am to 7pm on weekdays.
Concerns have been raised about making sure any changes are fair for all, with some stating many on lower incomes work set hours, and would not be able to change.
Cllr Simon Smith has said that whatever scheme is brought forward can not hit the poorest in the city. He said: "There are people in the city with broader shoulders who can carry the charge. This must not under any circumstances effect the poorest people."
Cllr Annika Osborne has raised concerns that changing the hours to peak time only would "displace" the traffic to the 'off peak' times.
Members have agreed that there are "doubts" about changing the hours of the operation, but said they want to keep the option on the table at this stage.
Some support being voiced for considering lowering the charge rate. The charge was proposed to cost £5 a day for cars. Cllr Neil Shailer said they need to consider it and show people who responded to the consultation that members have listened.
Cllr Tim Bick said they need to be "careful about eliminating the point of the scheme". He said they needed to think about how the proposed charge relates to the other parts of the proposals, such as the lower bus fares.
After Cllr Graham Wilson referred to the road charge as a congestion charge, Cllr Katie Thornburrow has said it is not, and that as a 'Sustainable Travel Zone' charge there is more to it than just congestion.
Discussing the proposed boundary for where the charge could apply now. Claire Ruskin, business representative, has said she thinks the current proposed boundary is "logical" and should not be changed.
Cllr Graham Wilson has said the only area he did not understand being included in the zone was Addenbrooke's Hospital.
Members are now discussing the possibility of allowing 'free days'. Here is what the report says about this👇 Image
Cllr Neil Shailer said he thinks free days could help solve a number of problems that have been raised.
Members are now discussing whether Addenbrooke's Hospital within the charge boundary.
Cllr Katie Thornburrow said she had heard an "awful lot" about problems trying to drive into and from the hospital site. She highlighted that Cambridge South Station was planned to open, and suggested there could be a free minibus shuttle from the park and ride...
...She said: "There could be some really good options if we can highlight them for people they would not be so concerned about it remaining in the zone."
Cllr Paul Bearpark said responses to the hospital being within the boundary had "come through strongly in the consultation responses" and said it needed to be addressed...
...He suggested it should be free to visit the hospital. He added that it was also important for the "trust in the scheme as a whole". He said: "We need to be clear on this that patients and visitors are not going to be charged."
There is not consensus from members on the Addenbrooke's issue.
Discussing exemptions for unpaid carers.
Cllr Katie Thornburrow said this is an equalities issue and said it would be "great" if the unpaid carers had the options available to give up their cars. She said she did not know what the solution was but said they needed to think about it.
Considering whether people commuting from inside the boundary to work outside of the city.
Cllr Claire Daunton said there are many people living about two, three minutes from the edge of the boundary and would have to pay to drive a very short distance. She said: "It is not equal, there will be more traffic going in than out."
Cllr Simon Smith said this issue was one of the things that was "just not fair".
Cllr Tim Bick has said he is now looking to summarise the debate and is looking at the recommendations to the meeting 👇 Image
Cllr Tim Bick said the joint assembly was not able to make any firm recommendations of changes today, as they do not have the information they would want about the impact of any changes...
...He said members had raised things they would like to be considered, and did support changes being looked at.
Cllr Katie Thornburrow has said she would like any proposed changes to come back to the joint assembly for them to look at.
Cllr Simon Smith has stressed the need to focus on equalities impacts. He said: "This has got to be a progressive scheme for the poorest."
Cllr Neil Shailer has raised that it was expected for something on the plans to appear before the county council at a meeting in July, and said it felt likely this would be pushed back.
And that is it for the meeting! The GCP executive board is due to meet later this month on the 29th to look at the consultation response report and consider the feedback from members at today’s meeting.
I am off to enjoy a cup of tea (very rock and roll, I know😆). Thank you to everyone who followed my thread!

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