Page last updated at 08:56 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 09:56 UK

Voters focus on transport issues

Deborah McGurran
Political Editor, BBC East

Generic ballot box
The Conservatives are defending a majority and hold 42 seats

It is the home of horse racing and a county that boasts King's College and punting on the River Cam.

The flagship city of Cambridge may be a worldwide brand but it is also a county of contrasts with a hinterland that extends to the fens.

The Conservatives are dominant on Cambridgeshire County Council despite a long history of Liberal support going back to the former MP for Ely Clement Freud's time through to the present day, with a sitting Lib Dem MP in Cambridge, David Howarth.

The Conservatives are defending a healthy majority here and hold 42 seats.

The Lib Dems have just over half that number at 23. Labour support has waned in recent years and the previous Labour MP lost her seat in Cambridge in 2005.

Sustainable growth is the hottest issue here. Cambridgeshire is the country's fastest growing county but all the parties agree that the government fails to recognise it in terms of funding.

Transport problems

At the sharp end of growth, the county feels it lacks government support.

This election, the Conservatives are claiming they are a success story and an administration that, against all the odds, in one of the lowest funded authorities in the country, has done a great deal of innovative thinking to access government grants.

Nevertheless, it does not get top marks from the Audit Commission and is a three-star authority, although it is "improving well".

The county is beset by transport problems. Its train to London is the most crowded in Europe. Major road links are under pressure. The east to west A14 dual carriageway is bumper to bumper.

Congestion is also one of Cambridge city's major headaches as it seeks to grow.

The City Of Cambridge has been grappling with congestion charging but has met with opposition, not least from the 2,000 people who work at the renowned Addenbrooke's hospital - the majority of whom live outside the city.

Union leaders say patients should be exempt from the charge and a recent report recommended scrapping the idea altogether and concentrating on improving public transport.

Guided busway

Labour are totally against the congestion charge which they believe will make people on low incomes worse off. In Cambridge City, where Labour hold their four seats, it is a key issue.

In just a few weeks' time the guided bus will be up and running between Huntingdon, St Ives and Cambridge.

The controversial £116m project officially opens later this summer. Connecting Huntingdon to Cambridge, the 15-mile route is the longest guided busway in the world.

The Liberal Democrat group on the county council, in its "alternative budget" called for lower council tax and increased investment in transport infrastructure.

The Green Party are fielding 20 candidates in Cambridgeshire and the UK Independence Party are fighting a dozen.

This is one of several authorities this time opting to hold the count the day after polling day. By the afternoon of Friday 5 June the results for its 69 seats will be announced.



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