To receive any questions from members of the public. The standard protocol to be observed by public speakers is attached.
Councillor Tim Bick, Chairman, reported that a number of people had registered to speak in relation to specific items on the agenda for this meeting. He therefore proposed that those questions be put at the relevant item.
A question from Edward Leigh had been received which did not relate to an item on the agenda for this meeting. The question was asked and answered as follows:
Mr Leigh listed six major developments in the region over the past two years, which he said would add to the considerable load on the strategic highways and railways. He also referred to the approximate 25 million vehicles that travelled annually past Cambridge on the A14, the 22 million on the M11, the 17 million on the A11 and the 9 million on the A505, as well as the fact that Cambridge railway station saw nearly 11 million passengers per year. Mr Leigh said that most of the urgent upgrades to the region’s road infrastructure involved Highways England and that there was huge untapped potential in the existing rail network. He therefore asked why so few of these schemes featured in the Transport Strategy for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire. Mr Leigh was of the opinion that feasibility studies and business cases should progress with schemes so that Highways England and Network Rail could programme schemes in sooner rather than later. He also questioned engagement between City Deal partners and Highways England or Network Rail and asked whether any consideration would be given to asking the Department for Transport to appoint Highways England and Network Rail as formal partners in the City Deal, with representation on the Executive Board.
Jeremy Smith, Head of Transport and Infrastructure Policy and Funding at Cambridgeshire County Council, acknowledged the importance of the issues raised by Mr Leigh but reminded him that the transport infrastructure schemes included as part of the City Deal programme were on many of the networks included in the Long Term Transport Strategy for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire. Mr Smith also reported that he and other officers from the County Council worked closely with strategic partners such as Network Rail and Highways England, although he emphasised that it was not up to the County Council or any other City Deal partner to produce business cases for schemes on Highways England’s networks. It was also noted that Network Rail had a significant improvement agenda of its own progressing and delivering improvements on other routes feeding into Cambridge. Mr Smith closed by reassuring Mr Leigh that lots of the issues he had raised were already in the County Council’s strategy document.
Councillor Bick, in referring to engagement between officers from the partner Councils and strategic partners such as Highways England and Network Rail, said that it would be useful to understand the type of engagement that took place and cited an ‘engagement map’ as an example of something that could be produced. Mr Smith agreed to circulate a document to Members of the Joint Assembly to meet with this request. Tanya Sheridan, City Deal Programme Director, also made the point that this was a strategic issue and would be incorporated as part of the City Deal’s Communications Strategy.