First debate held on the Sustainable Travel Zone proposals

On 8 June, the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) Joint Assembly began to consider what to do next after the publication of the findings of the Making Connections consultation (including a Sustainable Travel Zone for Cambridge). You can watch a recording of the meeting on the GCP’s YouTube channel (coverage starts at 2:06), read the agenda pack for the meeting and read the GCP’s press release about the meeting. You can also read our blog on the findings of the Making Connections report.

Joint Assembly hears six public questions from the Cambridgeshire Sustainable Travel Alliance and member organisations

The Cambridgeshire Sustainable Travel Alliance (CSTA) and its member organisations asked six public questions at the meeting, which were heard before the debate on the Making Connections proposals started. You can read the full text of all the public questions here

The CSTA’s own question raised the issue of the precarious and short-term nature of central government funding for sustainable transport and asked the Joint Assembly whether they have a duty to work together to find a reliable funding source for sustainable transport that is under local control. 

Cambridge Living Streets highlighted that walking, the most used active travel mode, is a key economic activity and questioned why it therefore received so little investment. 

Cambridge Area Bus Users called attention to the fact that convenient, affordable bus journeys depend on two things: local control of bus services and sustainable, long-term funding, that is also under local control. 

Camcycle brought up that people in Cambridgeshire need better walking, cycling and wheeling infrastructure now, as well as the guarantee of a scheme that will prioritise sustainable transport for the future, asking for ring fenced funding for active travel, as well as earlier completion of new schemes. 

Cambridgeshire Parents for the Sustainable Travel Zone raised the issue that low-income groups disproportionately bear the serious harms of the status quo in terms of air and noise pollution, and congested, unsafe roads, while contributing less to these problems due to lower rates of car ownership. 

Finally, East Cambs Climate Action Network received a written response to their question that highlighted public support for better buses and better cycling infrastructure and asked what would happen next with the Making Connections proposals.  

What did the Assembly members debate during the meeting?

(GCP Joint Assembly Meeting 8 June)

The conversation was wide-ranging, with time spent discussing the themes and concerns around the STZ that featured prominently in the consultation findings.

A short-list of options for altering the Making Connections scheme to address public and stakeholder concerns was included in the agenda pack for the Joint Assembly meeting (pp 98-104). There are a very large number of different ways in which the original proposal could be altered in response to the consultation findings. Broadly speaking, revisions can be categorised as changes to the scheme’s core parameters, or changes to the scheme rules.

During the meeting, the Joint Assembly members debated the merits and demerits of these different options, with particular focus on impacts on equality and reducing congestion.

(GCP Joint Assembly Meeting 8 June)

The impacts of the Making Connections proposals (and also the impacts of the status quo) on disadvantaged groups, including those with lower incomes and women came up frequently, as did the implications for businesses of all types (with SMEs and those that use or require deliveries from HGVs at the forefront). The need to build public trust in the GCP and the importance of assisting people with behaviour change were also mentioned on multiple occasions. Other topics that came up included the problem of forced car ownership in low income households, the potential for more deliveries to be made by cargo bike and the idea of extra shuttle buses e.g. from Milton park&ride to North Cambridge Station or between shopping centres. 

The Cambridge Evening News has published an article summarising the meeting here.

What are the next steps for the Sustainable Travel Zone proposals?

Members did not appear to decide to rule out any options for altering the Making Connections proposals and ran out of time to come to a consensus on a recommendation to the GCP Executive Board of the way forward.

It was agreed that an additional special meeting will be held on 26 June of the Joint Assembly together with the Executive Board to continue the discussion, by which date members hope to have additional technical information from the GCP. The core challenge is that any changes to the STZ proposal will affect the ability to deliver the improvements to buses, walking and cycling.

At that 26 June meeting, the discussion will focus on the potential impacts of different adaptations to the Making Connections proposals. The Joint Assembly will consider: 

  • the extent to which adaptations address consultation feedback 
  • effects on overall scheme objectives (e.g. traffic reduction)
  • operational complexity and enforceability 
  • costs and revenues
  • equalities, social and distributional impacts
  • deliverability
(GCP Joint Assembly Meeting 8 June)