Cambridgeshire County Council is debating a referendum petition on road freight proposals in Cambridge

Tomorrow (Tuesday 21 March), council members will hear a petition signed by more than 15,000 people calling for a referendum on toll proposals.

Cambridge's second march against a proposed crowding charge.  Photo:
Cambridge’s second march against a proposed crowding charge. Photo:

The petition, launched by the group Cambs Against Congestion Charge, says the “ill-conceived scheme” will cause “unspeakable hardship and inconvenience to the majority of our community” in and outside the city.

Kieron Johnson, chair of the group, said: “We feel very strongly that the general public should have this right in a matter of such influence and importance to all Cambridgeshire families.”

The petition has been signed by 15,241 people, meaning it has now achieved more than five times the 3,000 names to be discussed.

All signatories must be within the Cambridgeshire area for the petition to be considered valid.

“I want to thank everyone for your help and support in getting the petition to where it is,” Johnson said.

The petition will be considered by Cambridgeshire County Council with a proposal from Conservative group leader Cllr Steve Count.

The Cllr Count movement is calling for a ‘local survey’ to be carried out in Cambridgeshire on congestion charging as part of a sustainable travel area proposed by the Greater Cambridge Partnership.

He will call for polling on the same day as this year’s local election on May 4 to “help keep costs down” and for a “credible independent agency” to craft a single yes/no question to make sure it’s “clear, unambiguous and unbiased.”

The Cllr Count will also ask for £1.5m of reserves to cover the cost of the reconnaissance.

GCP is consulting on plans to offer cheaper bus fares and more frequent services with longer operating hours, funded by road tolls on motorists in a sustainable travel area across Cambridge, but excluding Park & ​​Ride locations.

Motorists will be charged £5 for driving in the area between 7am and 7pm on weekdays, while lorry drivers will pay £10 and lorry drivers will pay £50. GCP says the money raised will enable flat fares for buses of £1 within the city or £2 from abroad, up to a maximum of £4 across the upgraded network.

Anthony Browne, the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, said before the debate: “People don’t want that charge, but the GCP may come up with a different plan than existing proposals. What they should never do is assume that any revised proposal will be acceptable to the people Cambridgeshire.

However, when I wrote to the councilors asking them to state their position, only two responded – and one dismissed the 15,000 people’s views as a ‘joke’. For the 15,000 Cambridgeshire people this is no laughing matter. If the council, in direct defiance For democracy, prepare to settle this issue behind closed doors, I have news for them. Its population will not accept it.”

GCP says it is currently analyzing results from around 24,000 responses to its consultation in 2022, with results expected this summer.

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