The Liberal Democrats at Cambridgeshire County Council have urged the Conservative administration to persevere with its Transport Innovation Fund proposal, at least until the Government have responded in autumn 2008.
We think that the County Council was absolutely right to submit a proposal to the Transport Innovation Fund, because we believe that a transport strategy which includes major investment in innovative public transport schemes together with some form of road pricing is essential for the continued success and prosperity of the Cambridge sub-region.
However we believe that the present scheme requires considerable modification including, but not limited to, an undertaking that all surplus revenue will be applied to improvements in public transport, and incentives for lower emission vehicles. We think that further consideration is needed of the charging structure, and of the ways in which the TIF funding (of up to £500m) could be used to provide radical improvements to the public transport system – for people living within and outside Cambridge.
We are confident that these matters can be satisfactorily addressed in a final scheme. We would be happy to co-operate with the Conservative administration to develop the proposal, with the aim of presenting to Government a well worked out and imaginative scheme which has cross-party support.
We understand that the Government is likely to give its response to the TIF submission in the autumn of 2008. We have strongly urged the Conservative administration of Cambridgeshire County Council to await that response before coming to any decision as to whether to proceed to the next stages of the TIF bid.
If the Conservative administration withdraws its Transport Innovation Fund submission before receiving the Government response, it will get a brief cheer from opponents of congestion charging.
But that will be quickly followed by public realisation that the Conservative administration has no alternative transport strategy, and that it has thrown away a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest £500m of Government money to provide Cambridge and its surroundings with a first class public transport system.
I would be very glad to hear your views on the County Council’s proposed Transport Innovation Fund proposal, including its proposal for a Cambridge congestion charge, or around £4 per day, to operate from 7.30am to 9.30am on weekdays.