Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors on the Combined Authority’s Scrutiny Committee have called in the Mayoral Interim Transport Strategy Statement which was agreed at the Board Meeting on 30 May. The six councillors on the Scrutiny Committee who called it in have argued that it was incorrrectly listed as a non-key decision at the Board meeting as it would have a significant strategic impact on the area, and also raised a series of questions in regard to its standing and potential consequences for Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils in their Local Plan inspection process, managing current development plans and tacking congestion in their areas.
Councillor Lucy Nethsingha, who is Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cambridgeshire County Council, Chair of the Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee as well as sitting on the City’s Planning Committees as a city councillor, said
“I am very concerned that the request by the Mayor to call a halt to a number of schemes in the Cambridge area could cause delay to projects which are urgently needed to tackle the ever growing traffic problems. With the bio-medical campus growing everyday we need to provide improved public transport as soon as possible. Even a delay of a few months could cause problems, as Papworth hospital is due to open on the Addenbrooks site in the autumn."
Councillor Mike Sargeant, who is Vice- Chair of the Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee and also the Chair of the City’s Planning and Transport Scrutiny Committee, said: "The Local Plans for both Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire are currently reaching the final stages of inspection and it is vital that our draft plans are underpinned by an evidence based strategic transport plan and accepted by the Inspector. We are also asking for clarification of the impact of the Interim Transport Strategy Statement on our plans to tackle congestion in Cambridge including around the Addenbrookes site where capacity at the Trumpington Park & Ride is very near its limit. It is not clear how or if the Mayor's Statement aligns with our draft Local Plans or current plans for new transport infrastructure. “
Councillor Sargeant added: “It is disappointing to say the least that the Mayoral Interim Transport Strategy Statement was produced out of the blue with no clear rationale for its need and no opportunity for Scrutiny members or indeed for other members in the constituent local authorities to consider it ahead of the Board meeting despite its impact on our draft Local Plans. This is not how the Combined Authority or the Mayor should operate.”