Cambridge Labour Councillors have a Seven Point Congestion Plan to tackle Cambridge congestion, improve life for residents and workers, bus users, cyclists and pedestrians, and cut commuter parking in residential areas. This updates our 2016 proposals when Labour Councillors were the first to state policies, including that tackling congestion needs to be a combination of both citywide measures and local decisions including on the city centre.
CAMBRIDGE LABOUR’S SEVEN POINT 2017 PLAN TO CUT CONGESTION
1. Introduce measures, after detailed consultation, to reduce traffic in the City Centre and reduce vehicle traffic entering central Cambridge and along/across the inner ring road at peak-times, and make major interventions to improve city air quality.
The 2016 City Deal consultation, reported in January, has improved the earlier City Deal proposals and led to extra plans being developed by the City Deal to tackle congestion. We welcome their plans for a “Cambridge Clean Air Zone” including investigating the option of pollution charging.
Consideration of city centre changes to the routing of traffic and buses is also needed while ensuring that access is maintained for residents and deliveries.
The further development of a “workplace parking levy” on major worksite parking in Cambridge is an essential component too, and this also needs to prompt travel planning interventions by major employers to switch peak-time employee and other journeys from cars to other transport options.
2. Control the flow of incoming cars and lorries using smart traffic signalling at the city boundaries.
We believe that smart traffic signalling should be considered at major intersections on key routes into the city, along with wider smart Cambridge technology use and related interventions to alter travel patterns.
3. High quality cycleways and cycling provision, with pedestrian and cyclist friendly junctions.
Labour Councillors have already persuaded the City Deal and the County Council to allocate over £19m to cycling schemes within Cambridge in the last year including the Chisholm Trail, the Abbey/Chesterton cycling and pedestrian bridge, and extra cross city cycling schemes to address hazardous intersections and improve cycling and junctions on many of the city’s busiest cycling routes.
Further investment in cycle needs to continue, including Greenways, cycling routes linking communities on the edge of Cambridge with communities in South Cambridgeshire.
4. Control ‘free’ parking for commuters in our residential areas, reduce private parking in city centre, and integrate City and County Council parking management.
We want decisions on parking to be made locally and will involve residents in different areas of the city deciding what is best for their specific area. We regret that the County Council has deferred the adoption of a revised Cambridge parking policy but are determined to continue consultations and local decisions using the existing countywide policy. Residents can then choose yes or no, and take account of City Deal funding for set up costs, for ‘signing and lining.’
5. Invest in Park and Ride including additional facilities closer to where people live in South Cambridgeshire e.g. nearer to settlements at Cambourne, Northstowe and Waterbeach.
Smaller Park and Rides and Travel Hubs are needed closer to where people in South Cambridgeshire start their journeys, including at rail stations and major employment and housing sites, not just on the city perimeter.
We also want free parking restored at Park and Rides, and will be pressing the County Council to agree to fund this change in 2017.
6. Press bus companies to provide orbital services including around the inner ring road, express buses from towns and villages, and smart contactless ticketing.
Involving Stagecoach and other transport operators is critical to improving bus services in combination with other citywide and local measures, including use of smart technology to give travellers far better real time travel information and options and easier ticket purchase.
7. Win major further rail investment building on the delivery May 2017 of the new Cambridge North station, including via devolution
We want investment in the preparatory work needed to secure a new station at Addenbrookes, work with councils to the west to being forward East-West Rail and the line to Oxford and the addition of stations to serve Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn, and other new South and East Cambridgeshire stations and extra rail links.
Labour also supports major devolution investment in rail across Cambridgeshire and East England, linking all market towns and villages on and near existing routes..
We also want “light rail” and underground light rail and fast bus transport options for Cambridge assessed by the City Deal both on deliverability and viability.
WHY WE DON’T BELIEVE A CITYWIDE CONGESTION CHARGE IS THE RIGHT ANSWER …
We do not believe a citywide “Congestion Charge” to be the ‘magic bullet’ solution that the Liberal Democrats claim. The wider package of measures above is what is needed to tackle congestion and improve transport choices, and is both deliverable and fairer. We believe the full package will cut congestion and improving non-car transport options for all everyone.
A citywide congestion charge would force all local residents using cars to pay, whether or not they add to congestion. Worse, it discriminates against those in lower income jobs least able to pay, including many working long hours without workable public transport options. It would also take three to five years to implement.
The City Deal and other agencies are developing their plans during 2017 and the City Deal will then be consulting city residents and businesses on options for cutting Cambridge congestion and seeking South Cambridgeshire views too, once reports are published for discussion and public input. Residents and businesses need to have their say, and Labour welcomes your views on the package proposed above.
The Chairman of the Greater Cambridge City Deal Board has today underlined his commitment to listening to the public response on peak-time congestion control points.
Work is currently underway to assess the public response to an eight-point plan to tackle congestion in the city, including the concept of six virtual road closures on key routes to manage traffic.
Cllr Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council said: “Along with other Board members, I am immensely grateful to all the respondents who have provided a wealth of insight and information about how we can best tackle traffic congestion in Cambridge, and have responded in detail on the consultation that closed ten days ago.
"From what I have read and heard so far in responses to the consultation one aspect, the proposal for the six Control Points, has serious problems given the evidence on the scale of its negative impacts on city businesses and residents, and at this stage I am unconvinced that it is viable.
"I know that other Board members have also been considering these issues and share the view that that the proposed scheme for six Peak-time Congestion Control Points (PCCPs) needs full review.
"This will be part of the next stage once the City Deal has completed the assessment of all the 9000 returned surveys and over 1000 more detailed responses and prepared an initial report for the Board and Assembly, learning from the consultation responses.
"The officer team will then consider all the evidence, evaluate and work up further proposals for demand management to address growing peak-time central city congestion.
"Only by removing avoidable peak vehicle journeys can we restore bus reliability, cut massive journey delays for travellers, and end the wider damage to the quality of life of both residents and travellers and the risk to city's current and future prosperity.
"It is heartening that there is clear and strong community support for this and tackling congestion and a recognition that a far higher percentage of journeys need to be non-car. And the eventual solutions need to be acceptable to the wider community, while recognising that no solution is going to be universally popular.
"Once work on the updated proposals and any additional options has been completed, I am also committed to ensuring that the City Deal again seeks the views of residents, commuters (including bus passengers), businesses, stakeholders and the City Deal Assembly before any final decisions."
Labour councillors across the north of the City, and their local ward branches, have joined forces to answer the Greater Cambridge City Deal consultations on proposals for Milton Road and Histon Road. Click Milton Road or Histon Road to open
Whilst welcoming the potential for substantial investment in transport infrastructure offered by the City Deal, both submissions argue for a sharper focus on local connectivity and the need for schemes to benefit residents whilst tackling the existing and future demand for traffic arising from the City's planned growth.
Councillor Mike Todd Jones, speaking about the proposals for Histon Road, said: "We know that something needs to be done to ensure that Cambridge is not gridlocked as the thousands of new homes planned for the north of the city and its surrounds are built over the next few years. Without the City Deal investment in badly needed transport infrastructure would be piecemeal and take far longer to achieve.
"As the individual schemes come forward we must also use local knowledge to ensure that they meet, not only the needs of commuters and visitors coming into the City but also local residents who need to be able to go about their daily lives and access shops, libraries and community facilities easily.
"We have valued the contributions of many residents associations across the area to influence the plans and we now plan to meet with City Deal transport officers to discuss the next stage in more detail."
Mike Sargeant, a local resident from the West Chesterton Labour Party, who has been very active in questioning details of the proposals for Milton Road at the City Deal meetings, said: "We know there is no single solution to solving the congestion that already plagues Milton Road and the wider city highway network. These schemes need to be set against a larger plan for the City and surrounding area but we want those taking the decisions to get the right balance between those using Milton Road and the needs of residents who live on or near it."
City Council Executive Councillor for Housing, Kevin Price says housing is becoming a disaster in Cambridge and moving towards a catastrophe:
Cambridge City Council and our partners in the Greater Cambridge City Deal which was agreed in 2014 and covers the administrative areas of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, began this year with optimism for the future. A nationally and internationally successful area, albeit it with pockets of real deprivation, the investment of £500,000,000 by government, mainly in badly needed transport infrastructure to accompany our ambitious housing plans and meet the needs of growth, were welcomed by all.
Housing affordability, in both the market sale and private rented sectors, is a significant challenge. Average market sale prices now stand at over 16 x average incomes and nowhere in the City does Local Housing Allowance match private sector rents. The City Council houses over 7,000 households in our own stock and offers homes to over 450 new households every year, ensuring that communities across the city remain balanced and diverse. Under the City Deal the City had committed to delivering up to 2000 new council homes by 2030, and, together with South Cambridgeshire and Cambridgeshire County Councils, to an additional 1000 more affordable homes in the Greater Cambridge area.
However it is impossible to ignore that the government's Emergency Budget in July has changed the landscape dramatically for stock owning councils. Whilst much of the focus nationally has been on our partners in the social sector - housing associations - and the heavy impact on them of measures such as the 1% rent cut for the next four years, further welfare reform and the extension of Right to Buy to Housing Association tenants, the stark picture facing stock owning councils has been less well reported.
We began this year with a comprehensive review of the Housing Revenue Account to drive out inefficiencies and free up capital for our key goals of maintaining and improving our housing stock and services and building more social sector homes. Following the Emergency Budget many of the assumptions underpinning our Business Plan have been radically altered and have required us to rethink the Plan.
The disadvantages facing stock owning councils cannot be understated. We are being penalised through the original Right to Buy sales and the proposed extension to Housing Associations through compulsory sales of our own council stock and we cannot retain enough receipts to replace our lost stock. Under the proposals for Pay to Stay for tenants with household incomes over £30,000, the council must administer the scheme whilst it is required to pass any additional receipts onto the Treasury. Our capacity to borrow against our stock is severely constrained by the Housing Revenue Account debt cap and will shrink yet further in the future from a dwindling asset base and reducing income stream from rent receipts. The impact of the 1% rent cut for social sector tenants, reneging on a 10 year rent settlement agreed only last year, comes at a heavy cost to the Council. £14,883,000 in planned rent receipts has been lost over the next four years and an estimated £156,000,000 over the life of the Business Plan, and we will need to find ongoing savings of £6,003,000 from the base Housing Revenue Account by 2019/20. Whilst we are determined to protect our core services as much as possible there can be no doubt that these cuts will bite deep.
Most importantly we now face not only halting our plans to build new council homes but also the loss of up to 130 ordinary 1 and 2 bed council homes every year under compulsory sales to fund the extension of Right to Buy to Housing Associations. This will deepen the housing affordability crisis in Cambridge.
At a time when our achievements and hopes are under serious threat from national policy, we must look to our partners in the social sector and the City Deal and our tenants and residents for support in challenging those policies. We must stand firm on the value of a strong social housing sector and ensure that our voices are heard at the highest levels in Westminster.
The news that green energy and insulation company Climate Energy Ltd, which has been involved in delivering the Green Deal energy efficiency scheme in Cambridgeshire, has gone into administration has been branded the result of Tory 'vandalism' by Cambridge Labour.
The company had been the main Green Deal Communities delivery partner for the consortia of Cambridgeshire councils called 'Action on Energy'
set up to implement subsidised solid wall insulation and other energy efficiency measures for households. But it announced that it has gone into administration today. This leaves the future of the scheme in doubt, plunging residents into uncertainty about installations that are either already underway, or they have paid a deposit towards.
The news hits Cambridge particularly hard as a disproportionate number of customers of the initiative live in the city. It is widely believed that the raft of cuts to energy subsidies announced earlier in the summer by Tory Chancellor George Osborne has been a major factor behind this collapse. It has been announced at the same time as another major Green Deal provider, the Mark Group, has also gone into administration.
Executive Cllr for Finance and Resources at Cambridge City Council, George Owers, who leads on climate change, said: 'I recommend that worried customers listen to the official announcements from the administrators and Action on Energy and follow their advice. The future is currently uncertain, and we hope to be able to resolve the situation to the satisfaction of anyone who is having work done or who has paid a deposit.
‘However, it needs to be said that this is a stunning indictment of George Osborne's vicious recent cuts to the whole framework of green subsidies. Over the recent few months, not only was the plug pulled on the future of the Green Deal, but green energy feed-in-tariffs, which made solar energy generation economically viable, were slashed by 86%.
This is in addition to the government ending a range of other pro-green energy measures.
'This shows that the Tories don't care one iota about climate change or our obligations under international agreements and our own Climate Change Act, passed by the last Labour government. Climate change is a huge threat to our entire existence as a species, yet it is dismissed as “green crap” by David Cameron. The collapse of Climate Energy is symbolic of this Tory vandalism and climate change denial. It also belies the Tories' claims to back small business: they've just driven a host of thriving, innovative companies to the wall. It's a disgrace. We in Cambridge will continue to do what we can to tackle Climate Change and provide the leadership locally that is so lacking nationally.'
Councillor Kevin Price, the Labour-run City Council’s Housing Chief, has said that the Tory plans to extend Right to Buy to housing associations may mean the loss of more than two-thirds of council homes in Cambridge.
Councillor Price said: “The Tories plan to pay for this by forcing councils to sell off their own stock but have clearly not looked at the impact in high priced areas like Cambridge. Cambridge’s housing crisis has meant that even the value of council homes has gone up faster than comparative houses in other parts of the region. The Tories are proposing that any home above a set regional value will have to be sold when it is re-let.
“We estimate that this policy would mean up to 70% of our council general stock would have to be sold rather than re-let to families on our waiting lists. These are normal council houses, flats and bungalows in areas like Kings Hedges, Abbey and East Chesterton not large mansions in well off suburbs. That’s around 4500 homes lost for ever to the council, including most of our 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes at a rate of about 250 homes forced onto the market every year. We also know that if sold on the open market a high number of these will simply end up as buy to let with higher rents and insecure tenancies.
“This is nothing short of a disaster for Cambridge and a disaster for our waiting lists. It will be impossible to replace the number of council homes lost in the city itself which will mean low income families are forced to move away from Cambridge. Combined with the impact that increasing the Right to Buy discount for council tenants in April 2012 has already had on our stock, the City Council will struggle to continue at all as a social landlord. Housing associations have already threatened legal action and if this Tory policy is actually implemented we will have no choice ourselves but to fight it in the courts to protect the interests of the council and our residents.”
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State responsible for housing and local government, Hilary Benn MP has visited Cambridge to see new council homes being built in the city.
Mr Benn has announced plans to devolve £30 billion of central government funding currently spent on housing, transport, business support, employment and adult skills.
Mr Zeichner says that Cambridge is ideally placed to prosper from Labour’s plans:
“The current City Deal is a watered-down version of the original much bigger offer. Labour will give cities like Cambridge the resources we need to tackle the huge housing, transport and skills challenges that put our future success at risk. Too many young people in Cambridge are priced out of local housing – we will show Mr Benn that the Labour council has made a start, but there is so much more to do.”
Cllr Kevin Price added: "Housing is top of our agenda for the City Council as the affordability crisis is driven by the lack of supply, especially in social housing. That's why we are planning to build hundreds of new council homes over the next few years as part of our Cambridge Social Rent programme."
Cambridge Labour Councillors last night agreed a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) from June 2015 to reclaim for residents Petersfield Green play area, the over-60s recreation area on Ditchburn Place, and Mill Road Cemetery. There were no votes against the Plan in the final vote at the Council's Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee to approve the Order.
Local police said at the meeting the detailed approach in the new Order is right to make a real difference in cutting anti-social behaviour by drunk visitors to these spaces.
The Liberal Democrats moved an amendment to say that the police should only be able to act when there people were engaging in the act of Anti-Social Behaviour at exactly the same time as drinking but Labour Councillors and the police representative at the Committee, Inspector Matt Johnson, said that the power was needed to tackle situations also when people were drunk before and after such acts as well. In the final vote, there was no opposition to Labour's proposal, which was supported by local police, representatives and resident groups responsible for each of the three spaces, and 68% of the public in an extensive recent local Council consultation.
Councillor Kevin Blencowe, who represents Petersfield, said: "I am confident the partnership between the Council and police in Petersfield, assisted by this Order, will result in a major reduction in alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour on these precious spaces, and I will be working with local police constables and police community support officers over the next twelve months to achieve just that."
Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council who is also responsible for policing issues, said: "This is an intentionally clearly worded order for these three community spaces, which have suffered a decade of being taken over by groups of drunks, and a decade of inaction by the former Lib Dem-run City Council. Parents with children, elderly people and cemetery visitors including dog walkers and residents are entitled to action to protect them from being intimidated and stop excessive damage caused to these three number spaces, which are all that nearby residents have for recreation at this end of Mill Road.
"Any further use of these powers needed in other locations will be considered, case by case, if needed and different approaches may be used to tackle anti-social drinking or issues like inadequate dog control in other local areas. This new measure takes effect from 1st June."
Labour councillors hit back at false Liberal Democrat claims that City Council has cut local policing
Cambridge Labour councillors have hit back at false claims in Cambridge Liberal Democrat leaflets that the Labour-led City Council is cutting local police services and funds available to Cambridge police. Labour-run Cambridge City Council is ending a contribution to the tune of £51,000 per year paid for a decade direct to Cambridgeshire Constabulary central funds in Huntingdon, after receiving confirmation from senior police officers that this change will have no impact at all on police services in Cambridge.
The annual contribution was first paid in 2005, along with one-off payments by other councils for then new Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). The city alone continued payment as similar payments by other Cambridgeshire councils ended shortly after, as has been confirmed by the current Deputy Police Commissioner in relation to East Cambridgeshire District Council, where he was previously the authority’s leader.
Detailed statistics for Cambridge PCSOs also show numbers have moved up and down irrespective of council contributions. Cambridgeshire Police also confirmed that the ending of council funding will make no difference to PCSO numbers in the city.
Labour has also criticised Lib Dem leaflets for repeatedly using a photo from Wikipedia in their leaflets of a 2008 riot of football supporters at Piccadilly Gardens, central Manchester, that has no connection at all to Cambridge.
On policing, the Labour-led council is investing over £350,000 in 2015 in initiatives to reduce crime and combat domestic violence, supporting also police plans to tackle alcohol-linked violence, and implement new Public Space Protection Orders to cut anti-social behaviour by intoxicated drinkers in the Mill Road area after a consultation survey showed 67% local support. These new measures have all come about after Labour seized control of the City Council from the Lib Dems in May 2014.
On the Liberal Democrat record on policing, Labour Councillors point to damaging police funding changes voted in by Julian Huppert and other Lib Dem MPs. The Cambridgeshire Police Commissioner, which Julian Huppert voted for, has private office costs that would fund 30 extra Police Constables. Liberal Democrats MPs in the Coalition have also voted for cuts of £19.8 million in the Cambridgeshire police budget central grant, says Labour, which has led to 94 fewer Cambridgeshire police staff since 2010.
Leader of Cambridge City Council, Councillor Lewis Herbert, said: “Since 2005, the previous Lib Dem City Council has effectively gifted Cambridgeshire Constabulary roughly £400,000 and received nothing in return. Instead, we are reinvesting this money in vital public services including new crime initiatives without affecting any PCSOs in the city. Cambridge residents and businesses already pay for policing through a totally separate part of their Annual Council Tax, and the Police Commissioner clearly thinks there’s no need for extra local funds as he froze Council Tax funding for policing this year.
“The Liberal Democrats are being irresponsible and cynical in spreading false claims, playing on people’s fear of crime for attempted political benefit. I hope they raise their standard of debate in the seven weeks before the elections because the residents of Cambridge deserve better.”
“Instead of misleading the public and seeking a distraction, Liberal Democrats should increase policing finances by supporting Labour’s plan to end the wasteful new Police Commissioners, voted through by Julian Huppert and Liberal Democrat MPs. The Cambridgeshire Police Commissioner’s private office costs £1.2 million a year, money which would fund 30 extra Police Constables. We will also not take lectures from Liberal Democrats MPs who have voted for national cuts of £19.8 million in Cambridgeshire policing since 2010, particularly given the new initiatives added by our Council to help the police cut crime in Cambridge.”
Councillor Kevin Price, the Labour-led City Council’s Executive Councillor for Housing and a member of the City Deal Assembly, has said he is determined to use the City Deal to deliver more housing even though the government didn’t grant the housing ‘asks’ of the City Deal partners. At the March meeting of the Assembly, members will be briefed on the housing side of the City Deal and proposals put forward for the partners to unlock the potential for hundreds of additional new homes in Cambridge or South Cambridgeshire over the next few years together with an innovative City Deal led Housing Delivery Vehicle (HDV) to unlock finance and oversee site development plans and construction.
Councillor Kevin Price said: “We had asked the coalition government to include measures in the City Deal which would unlock additional home building for tenants in the private and social sectors but these were not granted so we have gone back to square one to look at how we can work together. We must use the City Deal to help unlock the potential for more homes alongside major infrastructure investment. The proposal for a Housing Development Vehicle is important in facilitating this and making sure that as a council we have the right skills to compete in an aggressive development market. We want to deliver up to 500 more new homes in or by Cambridge. That’s an ambitious target for the council but we have to be ambitious for Cambridge.
“Financing these new homes is a key issue which is why in the City we have already set aside up to £8 million in our budget to invest in homes for private sector tenants in Cambridge. Alongside building new council homes we are determined to provide high quality affordable rental homes for those on average incomes priced out of owning and with little choice in the over-heated private sector.”
Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge, Daniel Zeichner, added that the plan to build 500 new homes fit with Labour's national objectives: “Labour has pledged to lift the number of new homes being built – the numbers were rising before the financial crash of 2008, but we have still not returned to those levels, and need to do more to ensure affordability. Cambridge will be a key growth area for Labour, and I've invited the shadow minister, Hilary Benn to visit Cambridge in the next few weeks so we can explain exactly what we will need from the next Government.”