Over the past year, Cambridge City Council Labour Group has considered the GCP’s Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ) proposals, listening to our residents and offering robust scrutiny at every point in the consultation. While we have been looking forward to further discussion, we do not believe the current proposals on the STZ should proceed.
We are facing an undeniable challenge, which we as politicians all have a duty to respond to. Local authorities are being forced to find solutions while the Tory government turns a blind eye to the needs of communities. We urgently need radical improvements to our public transport network which is falling apart following years of cuts, and must act immediately to combat the worsening climate crisis and its impact on our health.
As stakeholders in the decision-making processes at the GCP, we have worked with the Liberal Democrats towards a solution that would address the transport crisis we face in Greater Cambridge. However, their current position makes it impossible to continue having a meaningful conversation on the new proposals.
Cambridge Labour has consistently maintained that any scheme we would support must be fair for residents, and we still have reservations about the proposals, including the extent of the mitigations for people on low incomes and the impact of a peak-hours only charge. We are also painfully aware of the financial difficulties residents have been facing following years of Tory austerity and the ongoing cost of living crisis.
At the same time, tackling the climate crisis and improving public transport are key to our Labour principles, and it is imperative we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and tackle congestion. We believe public transport should be in public hands, and private companies shouldn’t be allowed to continue to profit while essential services are cut. We believe everyone should have access to safe, efficient and affordable transport, where the air is clean and everyone can get where they want to go and we will continue to promote this, particularly through Mayor Nik Johnson’s work to consider enhanced partnerships and franchising buses in the region. This work is essential as we continue to ensure that the inevitable economic growth of the region is managed carefully and sustainably.
We hope that political interests won’t make it difficult for us to face these challenges, and we urge all the relevant political leaders to join with us to bring together a plan for the future that works not only for our residents and businesses but for those who come to our city to work, shop or study.
We would like to thank the GCP officers for all their work to date, and all residents, organisations, businesses and trade unions for their thoughtful and essential contributions throughout the process.