Few weeks pass when local papers do not run another story about problems of local traffic. The most recent issue has been parking around local schools at dropping off and picking up times. This is particularly severe on High Barns, Ely where three primary schools have similar start and finish times and school traffic spreads on to the increasingly busy Kings Avenue. Unsurprisingly, there has already in this school year been one accident involving a child and a number of near misses.
However this is just one in a growing list of local transport issues where transport bodies, operating companies, local councils and central Government have been unable or unwilling to provide solutions. It is worth surveying a list of some of the current unresolved issues:
- Increased train overcrowding as passenger numbers grow at Ely station – now more than 2 million journeys (entries/exits) per year.
- Failure to develop the facilities and infrastructure around the station to match usage.
- Poor cycling condition with haphazard cycle lanes and little progress on improved routes within the city.
- ‘Missing links’ in several cycle routes at danger points such as crossing the A10 at the A142 Witchford junction.
- Delay to reopening Soham station and the Ely North junction upgrade.
- Threats to the Ely Zipper bus services.
- Impact of heavy vehicles in Haddenham, Wilburton and other villages.
- Growing congestion on the A10 in morning and evening rush hours for those who need to commute by car.
It is a sorry list, revealing a string of failures by successive Tory administrations on Cambridgeshire County Council to think strategically about transport in and around Ely and between Ely and Cambridge. Local councillors and MPs have been ineffective in much of their lobbying. They have tended to focus on partial solutions such as the Ely Southern bypass or piecemeal minor changes, which have not necessarily had the desired effect.
Labour’s alternative would be to produce a comprehensive, integrated transport and travel plan for the area, looking to tackle issues by identifying priorities and ensuring that we have systems that fit together. This would ensure:
- Improved road safety in Ely and the villages
- Better services for commuters
- Increased safer options for cycling and walking
- Bus and train services working in a co-ordinated way
- Transport around Ely linking with developments around Cambridge
Over the next few months we will look at how specific issues could and should be tackled and publish ideas from both Labour and other organisations.