Combined Authority local transport plan criticised during Metro Mayors’ Question Time

The combined authoritys local transport plan was criticised during Metro Mayor James Palmers questio

The combined authoritys local transport plan was criticised during Metro Mayor James Palmers question time event. Picture: Archant/File - Credit: Archant

Members of the public and several town and parish councillors have criticised the Combined Authority’s draft Local Transport Plan (LTP).

Criticism was levelled at the planned third river crossing of the Ouse Valley at Huntingdon/St Ives and the A141 area at the meeting of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) Board (Wednesday).

Cllr Graham Campbell of Godmanchester Town Council said: "What is the justification for the CPCA to be fully committed to an elevated third river crossing in principle when there is currently no evidence of a national or regional transport imperative that would favour the construction of a new road, above the protection and enhancement of this unique and fragile landscape?"

Similarly, Cllr Bridget Flanagan of Hemingford Abbots Parish Council said: "One of the goals of the CPCA when it was set up was to preserve and enhance our built, natural and historic environment and to implement measures to achieve net zero carbon footprint while delivering a transport network that would protect and enhance this area of natural beauty. Yet we see with this LTP that you have done none of that.

"Instead, your planned third river crossing would cause irrevocable environmental damage to nationally scarce habitats, important nature conservation sites and the cherished landscape of the Great Ouse Valley - we're very concerned that the CPCA appears to disregard its own aims and objectives, and is oblivious to the results of the consultation."

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Helen Boothman on behalf of the Great Ouse Valley Trust went further, and said: "Evidence from Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and others, demonstrates clearly that new roads do not deliver congestion relief, but instead damage the landscape and do nothing to boost the local economy of an area as you have hoped. We simply can't afford to continue addressing 21st century transport issues with 20th century solutions.

"Any future approach to transport planning should catalyse a green economy that does not cost the earth environmentally or financially.

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"Where are the travel options which are low or zero carbon, mitigation air pollution and promoting environmental resilience? And will the CPCA build in some flexibility to a transport plan to allow for integration with other plans?"

Defending the plan Metro Mayor, James Palmer, said: "The public consultation ran for seventeen weeks between June and September, and was designed to give the Combined Authority an understanding of the feelings of all the residents in the affected areas, as well as other key stake holders on the overarching strategic vision, aims and objectives contained in the LTP.

"There were over twenty public exhibitions of the findings of the public consultations, specifically relating to the independent checks the CPCA had taken, a strategic environmental assessment and we even produced a community impact assessment to measure potential impacts across several areas.

"This LTP has been subjected to significant internal governance, and throughout the development of the document it has been subject to challenge by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Transport and Infrastructure Committee as well as specific sessions with the leaders of the councils affected, and of course with this board which is a public meeting. I just don't know what more we could've done."

Cllr Dick Tapin of Godmanchester Town Council said: "If the study proceeds, what assurance can you give my fellow councillors that the scope of that study will include a full regional analysis of all the transport needs, so that we, as a town council, can be involved at all stages in the preparation of the report by your consultants?"

Mayor Palmer replied: "Of course Godmanchester Town Council can have representatives on the A141 capacity steering group and will be included in any decisions that are put to the CPCA as part of this LTP."

Cllr Lewis Herber, leader of Cambridge City Council said: "I think it is vital that the CPCA have a public-first approach to any LTP, and I recall when the authority was set up three years ago we had an ambition that almost all the people in the county would be able to get to and from work within half an hour by public transport, no matter where they lived in Cambridgeshire.

"I appreciate the challenges that approach makes upon our planners, especially with this being so rural a county, but I do think that we need to re-state that ambition."

Members of the Board voted to adopt the draft LTP, making note of the objections raised by the speakers.

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