Cambridgeshire County Council looks poised to withdraw from two committees that provide a forum for discussing transport and planning matters with Cambridge City Council.
The county council’s constitution and ethics committee last week voted 5-3 in favour of withdrawing from the Cambridge area joint committee this summer. The Conservatives voted in favour of withdrawal and the Lib Dem and Labour members against.
The joint area committee has a central role in deciding on many local transport matters, such as cycling schemes, pedestrian crossings, parking restrictions, traffic calming, dockless bikes, and electric vehicle charging points.
County councillors also voted by 5:3 to withdraw from a joint development control committee for the Cambridge fringe, which also comprises Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire district councils.
A final decision on the withdrawals will be made by Cambridgeshire’s full council on 19 May.
Fiona McMillan, Cambridgeshire’s director of governance and legal services, said the case for abolishing the Cambridge joint area committee was two-fold. “The first is that it is not considered reasonable or appropriate that one area in the county should receive a different service than others. Withdrawing from the committee will provide equity of service across Cambridgeshire and allow officer time to be used more effectively on schemes across the county.
“Secondly, there is already a clearly established alternative process to make the decisions that are currently made in the Cambridge joint area committee and this is working well across the rest of the county. This involves decisions being made by officer delegation or when appropriate, issues being considered by the appropriate [county] council committee.”
The proposals have angered the city council, as well as transport pressure groups.
Camcycle, the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, said: “Whilst it is entirely appropriate that the rural councillors who run the county council have oversight of budget and some say in transport matters in Cambridge, that is very different to withdrawal of any guarantee that there will be a majority of people from Cambridge deciding these questions.
“These proposals would mean that no councillor, or indeed, resident would have any meaningful say in any transport plan or project suggested or mooted for the city.”
Campaign group Smarter Cambridge Transport has launched a petition opposing the county’s withdrawal from the joint area committee.
Campaign founder Edward Leigh also criticised the county’s proposed withdrawal from the Cambridge Fringes joint development control committee. He said the committee was “critically important to ensuring spatial and transport planning decisions are made in a co-ordinated way”.
Leigh told LTT the county council’s proposal to withdraw from both committees was “symptomatic of a breakdown of relationships” on transport between the Conservative-controlled county and the Labour-controlled city.
The county has blocked further residents parking schemes in the city, against the city council’s wishes. The county has also been critical of the city council’s support for some form of road charging in the city (LTT 10 Jan).
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