Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 11:31 UK

Congestion charge plans put off

A report has ruled out any consideration of a congestion charge for Cambridge until at least 2017.

The Cambridgeshire Transport Commission has recommended any charge is not looked at until the county council has secured £500m in government funding.

It believes the money should be used to improve cycle ways, walking, public transport and roads across the county.

A congestion charge may become necessary, it added, but should not be considered for at least eight years.

The £500m improvements should be in place first, said the commission, which heard from more than 1,000 residents.

Its independent inquiry also comprised 15 public hearings, where evidence was heard from 119 people.

'Trigger point'

Commission chairman Sir Brian Briscoe said: "It would be wrong to introduce a congestion charge before the proposed transport improvements are introduced, the A14 widened and the Chesterton Station project completed.

"It is up to the public, business and the councils to agree a point with government when congestion charging would be introduced.

"Of course, if people decide to use the transport improvements and transfer from their cars in sufficient numbers, this point can be put off into the future."

The report said the public, business and councils should agree a "trigger point" where congestion is so bad that it may be necessary to bring a charge in.

The commission echoes our long term argument that major investment in transport improvements must be carried out now
Roy Pegram

The report praises the transport improvements, such as Park and Ride, that have already been introduced but says bus ticketing and information should be significantly improved.

The commission is an independent panel set up by the county council in light of "mixed responses" from the public during a 2008 consultation on measures to combat congestion in and around Cambridge.

Roy Pegram, county council cabinet member for growth, infrastructure and strategic planning, said: "The commission echoes our long term argument that major investment in transport improvements must be carried out now for the social and economic good of the county and even the country.

"I welcome the commission's views on the importance of Cambridgeshire nationally and the recognition of the need for government to support the improvements to the A14 and creation of Chesterton Station."

The council's views on the report's findings will be reported back to the cabinet in September.

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