Agenda item

Public questions

To receive any questions from members of the public.  The standard protocol to be observed by public speakers is attached.


Question by members of the public were asked and answered as follows:


Question by Hans Hagen


Hans Hagen said that Cambridge Biomedical Campus partners were concerned about the lack of progress in resolving the M11 Junction 11 bus lane issue, noting that the City Deal’s Forward Plan included an item on this issue.  They were disappointed to see that this had slipped to consideration by the Joint Assembly on 1 December 2016 and subsequently the Executive Board on 8 December 2016.


He outlined that their understanding was that a separate bus-only slip road from the motorway to the Trumpington Park and Ride was no longer a favoured option, but that the junction could be improved to ensure the smooth flow of buses and cars from the motorway to the Park and Ride.  If this option were to be pursued, he understood that it would be considerably cheaper and faster to implement than the original slip road option. 


Mr Hagen emphasised that the need for an improved junction was time critical, making the point that Papworth Hospital would start commuting to the Biomedical Campus from April 2018 and that partners planned to run a bus service to cater from them and other users of the site from the end of 2017.  The take-up of that bus service would depend on it being reliable and fast.  He said that without improvements to Junction 11 there was a significant risk that the increased traffic from April 2018 would result in long tailbacks from the Junction onto the M11. 


He therefore asked the Executive Board whether it could take steps to ensure that there was no further slippage of consideration and resolution of this issue and that it was taken forward as a standalone tranche 1 project, rather than as a subset of the Western Orbital project.


Bob Menzies, Director of Strategy and Development at Cambridgeshire County Council, confirmed that the report scheduled for consideration by the Joint Assembly and Executive Board on the M11 and the Western Orbital would include timescales for taking the respective schemes forward, together with the outcome of discussions that had occurred with Highways England. 


Councillor Francis Burkitt was very keen to address this particular junction in view of the reasons set out in the question.  He himself had met with landowners and spoken to officers and highlighted that South Cambridgeshire District Council had also passed a motion in support of this project. 


Councillor Burkitt expressed his frustration, however, that he had been continuously saying that the Board needed evidence to justify the proposals and said that, so far, there had been a significant lack of evidence provided.  Regarding the Biomedical Campus partners’ proposal to run a bus service for employees, he called for factual information outlining how many buses they envisaged running, how many people would potentially use them and the locations where employees were travelling from as this would assist the content of the report and create a stronger argument for supporting the business case associated with the project. 


Mr Hagen responded by saying that some evidence had been presented to the Joint Assembly last year, setting out maps and the locations of where employees were travelling from.




Councillor Burkitt requested that as much information be forwarded to the officers as possible so that it could be reflected in the report scheduled for consideration at the December cycle of meetings of the Joint Assembly and Executive Board.


Question by Penny Heath


Penny Heath asked the Board to reconfirm the planning status of City Deal transport schemes and which City or County Council committees would do the scrutinising at planning level.


It was noted that transport infrastructure schemes involving development of the highway would fall under the jurisdiction of the Joint Development Control Committee, the membership of which comprised Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.  Those schemes outside of the highway, such as the Chisholm Trail for example, would be determined by the Planning Committee of the relevant planning authority.  Larger and more significant schemes may need to have Transport Works Orders or Development Control Orders granted in order for them to proceed.


Councillor Lewis Herbert, Chairman of the Executive Board, agreed that a written response on this issue would be sent to Penny Heath for further clarity.


Regarding the Environmental Design Guide, Penny Heath asked what the working status of the document was, where the latest draft could be viewed, and who was coordinating the revised brief.  She also referred to a letter by the Cambridge Architects’ Association dated 16 September 2016 and asked whether the Board believed any of their recommendations could help improve the Design Guide.


Tanya Sheridan, City Deal Programme Director, highlighted that the Design Guide’s status was that of a guidance document and not policy in the same context as statutory planning policy.  The City Deal was obliged to follow the local planning framework and policies of the relevant Councils depending where the scheme was taking place.  The aim of the Design Guide, as guidance, was to ensure that good practice could be captured and followed as part of City Deal schemes, in line with local policy.


It was noted that the revised version of the document was in the process of being developed and would be submitted to the Joint Assembly and Executive Board for consideration early in 2017. 


Councillor Herbert highlighted that the Design Guide was currently being used in the development of the Histon Road and Milton Road transport infrastructure schemes.


Penny Heath queried whether any resources were available, reflecting on the significant input that could be added to the document from professionals such as architects and engineers, to bring people together in an attempt to significantly improve the document.  Councillor Herbert agreed to consider holding a workshop early in 2017.


Question by Edward Leigh


Edward Leigh was unable to attend the meeting, but had submitted questions in respect of the scheme concept options lists for the Cambourne to Cambridge, Milton Road and Histon Road projects, as well as a range of questions in respect of the A428 Cambourne to Cambridge better bus journeys scheme.


Councillor Herbert noted the content of the questions and confirmed that a written response would be provided to Mr Leigh.


Question by Nicki Marrian


Nicki Marrian referred to the eight point plan as published on the City Deal website which sought to address congestion in the city, with one of those eight promises being on-street parking controls.  She understood that responsibility for this issue had been delegated to the Cambridge Joint Area Committee and highlighted that the Committee had not consulted with Residents’ Associations in the four months between July and October, as indicated at the Committee’s July meeting.  She therefore thought it was unlikely that the Committee would manage this between now and January. 


Nicki Marrian therefore asked what the Executive Board was doing to ensure that work such as this, and a thorough assessment of the Hills Road cycleway, were given the urgent priority they deserved.


Councillor Herbert said that parking controls would be a key aspect of the congestion plan for Cambridge and that he and partners were committed to seeking the valuable input of Residents’ Associations as part of decision-making, adding that it would be essential to get the details of these controls right.  He made the point, however, that the City Deal Executive Board had no direct involvement in this aspect of the proposal.  He was keen to see this progress and was committed to ensure that this was brought forward for consideration by the Committee early in the New Year. 


It was noted that any final scheme would need to be approved by the relevant County Council committee and would involve public consultation. 


Councillor Herbert made the point that although the City Deal Executive Board could not take any decision on an on-street parking control scheme, it saw this as an essential element of the wider access and congestion scheme.  In view of this he said that the Board would be prepared to put resources in place for set up costs, meaning that residents themselves would not have to pay the initial upfront costs of a permit, for example.  Councillor Herbert informed Nicki Marrian that he would personally make contact with the Joint Area Committee to establish its timescales. 


Councillor Ian Bates was of the opinion that progress was being made through engagement with County and District Councillors, who were keen to ensure that they got this very important aspect of the wider congestion and access project right.


In terms of the Hills Road cycleway, Councillor Bates confirmed that an elected Member working group had been set up to review all cycling projects and schemes across the county.


Councillor Francis Burkitt reiterated that this was not something that the Executive Board had any control over and was personally equally as frustrated that it had taken so long to go through the Joint Area Committee.  He urged Nicki Marrian to continue challenging the project’s progress via the County and City Councils. 


Councillor Herbert agreed to write an open letter in order that the Executive Board’s views on this issue were in the public domain, to set out what financial support the Board would be willing to provide and establish the Joint Committee’s timescale for consideration of the project.


Question by Dr Gabriel Fox


Dr Gabriel Fox asked whether the Exectuive Board would agree to instruct transport officers to conduct a full, fair and transparent appraisal of two modified versions of the option 1 bus route for the A428 Cambourne to Cambridge better bus journeys scheme, denoted as option 1a and option 1b as follows:


·         options 1a and 1b were both express, high-quality bus services, with a similar number of stops to options 3 and 3a;

·         these ran primarily along existing roads west of Madingley Mulch with signalisation of the roundabout to provide bus priority including an on-road and inbound bus lane from the A1303/A428 junction along Madingley Rise, and over the M11 overbridge, to the junction of Ada Lovelace Road, continuing through the West Cambridge site as envisaged with options 3 to 5;

·         they would be supplemented by a Park and Ride at Scotland Farm and a high-quality, segregated cycleway and pedestrian walkway from Bourn to Cambridge via Coton;

·         option 1a would run on the existing A428 dual carriageway as far as Madingley Mulch, with the future option of a high-occupancy vehicle lane in the event of future significant congestion developing on that road, continuing as above;

·         option 1b would run on a new offline segregated dedicated bus route connection between Cambourne and Bourn Airfield, continuing along St Neots Road with bus priority measures in place to the A1303 and A428 junction, as above.


Dr Fox explained that these two options represented important differences from the option 1 route appraised and modelled to date, namely in their full online segregation inbound from Madingley Mulch to the West Cambridge site, together with service to that site.  He felt that these features markedly improved performance compared to the original option 1 and provided a much fairer and more useful comparison to the fully segregated offline option 3 route.  Dr Fox also suggested that there was initial evidence that the overall scoring for these options would be significantly higher than that for options 3 and 3a, with equivalent economic benefits.


Dr Fox also highlighted that these schemes did not require the completion of the planned feasibility work relating to two bus lanes on Madingley Rise, since this was already acknowledged in assessments commissioned by City Deal partners via Atkins that a single inbound bus lane, including over the M11 bridge, was technically feasible.


Councillor Herbert highlighted that significant consideration of the options relating to this scheme had taken place at the previous meeting of the Executive Board, where the Board took into account recommendations put forward by the Joint Assembly and Local Liaison Forum and had agreed to undertake further assessment of the feasibility of on-road options relating to Madingley Rise.  A topographical survey had been commissioned in this respect and he explained that the next stage of the process would be to compare outline business cases against the practicalities of off-road options and the further analysis of the on-road options.


Mr Menzies explained that in taking the business cases further they had to be tested against a ‘do minimum’ option.  Officers would therefore still be bringing forward work on option 1, as well as concentrating on segregation and the outcomes of the topographical survey.   


Dr Fox did not feel that all options had gone through the same assessment process before being withdrawn for further consideration.  He felt that the preferred options could not be considered as having been properly tested if they had not been tested against other reasonable options. 


Councillor Burkitt asked for further clarity regarding the topographical survey.  Mr Menzies confirmed that Skanska had been commissioned to carry out the survey and work had commenced onsite.  The initial results of which would be shared with the Local Liaison Forum early in the New Year with preliminary engineering designs likely to be available in February 2017.  He committed to provide this information on the City Deal website but, in view of the complexity and technical nature of the survey, advised that specific software may need to be used to enable people to view it.


Councillor Burkitt also asked for the Atkins report to be placed in the public domain.  He was conscious that this was often referred to, so felt that for completeness it should be accessible via the City Deal website.  Mr Menzies confirmed that the Atkins report had been used in assessing the different options at the outset of the scheme’s development.  It had been produced in June 2015 and Mr Menzies said it had been shared at that time with the Local Liaison Forum.  He agreed to place this document for viewing on the City Deal website.  Dr Fox disagreed that the document had been shared with the Local Liaison Forum in June 2015.


In order to reach a conclusion regarding the assessment of options and the definition of ‘do minimum’ in respect of the analysis of preferred options, Councillor Herbert agreed to facilitate a meeting between Dr Fox and officers.


Question by Councillor Susan Van de Ven


Cambridgeshire County Councillor Susan Van de Ven said that fund would be required in order to complete the overall A10 cycle scheme in respect of the Melbourn to Royston segment.  She said that this was a key micro-economic zone with a cluster of very significant employment centres with strong localised travel to work flows.  She was encouraged that the Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership was working on funding opportunities, but emphasised that this needed the Executive Board’s continuing support, including being open to part funding on the Cambridgeshire side.


Councillor Herbert, on behalf of the Board, said that it was keen to make this scheme happen.  He reminded those present that more clarity on the Growth Deal round 3 bid submitted by the Local Enterprise Partnership should be made available before the end of the year, together with the devolution proposals for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.  He said that the Executive Board was trying to fill any funding gaps that may occur.


Councillor Van de Ven said that Foxton level crossing was becoming an ever increasing obstruction to mass transit along the A10 corridor, including the new cycleway, adding that Network Rail had shelved its feasibility study to close the crossing and build a bypass with a bridge or underpass.  Addressing Foxton level crossing was on the City Deal’s list of key components for unlocking sustainable transport potential along the A10 corridor, so Councillor Van de Ven asked the Board whether it could explore new funding arrangements including taking on the road aspects of what was a road and rail project.


Councillor Bates highlighted that Network Rail had identified this as a major scheme, likely to include a large underpass and significant bridge.  The project had initially been included in Network Rail’s programme and at the time of considering the City Deal’s prioritised schemes for the tranche 1 programme it had been included as part of that programme, but with no City Deal funding allocated to it on the understanding that this scheme would be fully funded by Network Rail.  Councillor Bates said that pressure needed to be put on Network Rail to ensure that this project was put back into its programme of schemes, noting that Heidi Allen, Member of Parliament for South Cambridgeshire, was keen to see this happen as well. 


Councillor Herbert agreed to write to Heidi Allen MP on behalf of the Executive Board to seek her support in raising this issue with the Minister and provide an update back to the Board on the status of any such discussions.


Mark Reeve made the point that private sector leverage would be an important aspect of funding for projects such as this, so a strong business case needed to be brought forward.  He highlighted that the Local Enterprise Partnership was working with Members of Parliament and partners regarding a similar situation as part of the Ely North scheme. 


Councillor Herbert acknowledged that there was no pressing business case for this scheme so it was likely to be considered as part of the City Deal’s tranche two programme.


Councillor Van de Ven reported that Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton stations were experiencing a 10% increase in footfall every year and in 2018 train capacity was expected to quadruple with the advent of a half-hourly off-peak service and eight-car trains.  However, she noted that there were no plans to upgrade these stations as transport interchanges to meet modern demand.  She informed the Board that last spring the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership had commissioned Railfuture to carry out an audit of all three stations.  This had now been published and provided a comprehensive overview of necessary work to modernise the stations.  She felt that a next step that could unlock funding from other sources for station infrastructure improvement would be station travel planning.  Councillor Van de Ven therefore asked the Executive Board if it would consider supporting this.


Councillor Herbert agreed to consider inclusion of these railway sites as part of consideration of schemes for inclusion in the City Deal’s tranche 2 programme.


Councillor Burkitt asked for clarity over how much of an investment was necessary.  It was noted that this had been estimated at £10,000.  Councillor Burkitt felt that the City Deal should be able to provide all or part of the investment required and the Chairman agreed to follow this up.


Councillor Burkitt reminded the Board that he had contacted all Parish Councils in South Cambridgeshire, in his capacity as a Cabinet Member at the District Council, to seek their ideas for transport hubs.


Question by Jim Chisholm


Jim Chisholm was very pleased to see that the Chisholm Trail project had reached this critical stage and took the opportunity to thank all officers, elected Members and other interested parties for their support and hard work in ensuring the scheme reached this point.  He added that it was good to see a City Deal project that had almost universal support and that he felt could bring wide and sustainable benefits to people in Cambridge and its environs.


He highlighted that two of the largest non-political membership organisations in the area, the Cambridge Cycling Campaign and Cambridge Past Present and Future, had supported the principle of this route over many years.  Mr Chisholm asked that officers, elected Members and other parties continued to work together to ensure that the Chisholm Trail reached completion.  He also asked that the City, County and South Cambridge Councils worked effectively with business and education partners to ensure that both the River Bridge and phase 1 could be completed as soon as possible, and that the Greater Cambridge City Deal partnership worked equally hard towards the next phase.


Councillor Herbert thanked Mr Chisolm for his support and said that the Board was determined to see this project through and that discussions with all interested parties would continue as part of its development.

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