Thursday, June 26, 2008

Congestion Charge Rethink - Time for some Lib Dem honesty?

As has been reported in the Cambridge Evening News, the result of the Conservative County Councillors group meeting last Friday is a rethink on congestion charge plans. Whilst they have not ruled out congestion charging immediately (by far my preferred option!), they are going back to the drawing board and setting up a commission including the district Councils and various other interests in the local economy to look at what transport infrastructure Cambridgeshire needs going forwards - this commission will gather evidence and then advise the County Councillors, who will then take the final decisions. I understand this new policy will be debated and approved at the next County Council cabinet meeting/full Council meetings.

I hope this new approach can start by identifying the serious investment that is needed in all types of transport, and will result in the County asking the government for this investment without any strings attached. It will also give time for more public reaction to the Manchester congestion charge proposals, that have already seen one high supporter of congestion charging lose his Council seat, getting trounced into third place.

It is also time for the Lib Dems to come clean about their plans for transport in Cambridge. Surprise, surprise, their first reaction to the news was to condemn the County Council's plans, but yet again they won't tell us what they would do instead. Its not surprising, because as a party the Liberal Democrats are actually in favour of a form of road pricing like congestion charging - and locally have said: "The Liberal Democrats recognise that a transport strategy which includes substantial improvements to public transport and some form of road pricing is essential". Yet you wouldn't think that from any of their literature distributed in the last local elections - when you will just have read about how opposed they were to the County Councils congestion charging plans. Nobody reading their literature would have guessed that the Lib Dems were only disagreeing with the detail of the congestion charging plans, and are actually in favour in principle. This is a disgraceful abuse of the electorate in Cambridge - as the debate continues, its time for the Lib Dems to come clean and be open about their support for road pricing in Cambridge.

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