We, Ely Cycling Campaign, are extremely disappointed that ECDC have committed a total of £1million to assist the building of the proposed A14 toll road. A road which doesn’t enter the boundary of East Cambridgeshire. A road which will also be funded by the taxpayers. A road that, once built, you will have to pay to use. A road which local haulage companies, because of the toll, have threatened to boycott as it will affect their competitiveness. If a haulage company like Turners of Soham boycott the A14 toll road their most logical route will involve traveling through villages like Streatham and Haddenham on roads not built for large quantities of heavy traffic and an increase in noise and air pollution in populated areas.
East Cambridgeshire District Council should not be syphoning off funds from the Community Infrastructure Levy that could be used to provide safer cycle routes to schools, the city centre and train station to help fund potential disrupted traffic through our villages and a road the public are already paying for and will pay to use.
East Cambridgeshire District Council state that the economic benefits for the district are their reasons for financially support this project but cannot provide evidence of these claims or quantify their argument.
The Community Infrastructure Levy is a levy that East Cambridgeshire District Council charge on new developments in East Cambridgeshire. These funds can be used to support developments the the council, local community and neighbourhoods want, like new or safer road schemes, park improvements or health and leisure facilities.
Cycling infrastructure in East Cambridgeshire is left wanting in comparison to Cambridge and other areas. Cambridge recently received a £8.2million investment to be spent on cycling infrastructure as the benefits to health and the economy of cycling is finally being realised by the government. This money will be invested in safer cycling routes, dedicated kerb cycle lanes and even giving priority to cyclist at junctions. East Cambrideshire District Council have spent, on average, only £35,000 a year on Cycling Infrastructure which doesn’t only benefit cyclists, but provides emptier less congested roads for the remaining car users, which are quicker and safer. If the majority of children cycle or walk safely to school, there would be no school run congestion, and less danger to children, who would be healthier and more active. A healthier more active community would also reduce the strain on our health care system and less vehicles on the roads would also mean less maintenance costs on repairing roads which could be reinvested in the community.
East Cambridgeshire has a relatively flat terrain which should make cycling the sensible, cost effective and healthy choice for residents. A recent survey carried out by Cambridgeshire County Council in Ely had the majority of people stating they would like to cycle more for commuting and leisure but were dissuaded due to poor quality of roads and lack of cycling infrastructure making them feel unsafe.
In a time when the council say funds are at a premium and will be for the foreseeable future an investment in cycling infrastructure in East Cambridgeshire makes economical sense not a long term commitment to an out of district project.
The Community Infrastructure Levy is the only source of funding for cycling infrastructure in East Cambridgeshire and the council should follow the example of the government and other cities in realising the benefits of cycling and invest according to reap the rewards for the local residents and the economy.
We urge the council to reverse this decision and invest in East Cambridgeshire as these are the constituents they represent!