Cambridge Independent column: Making Cambridge a better place is our mission

Published 14 March 2024

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In a column published in yesterday's (13 March) edition of the Cambridge Independent, Cllr Elisa Meschini reflects on the work delivered to date by the GCP following last week's Executive Board discussion on the City Deal legacy's and the Spring Budget.

"We all care so dearly and passionately about the place where we live. How do we strike a balance between keeping things the same while also introducing the change which is so badly needed?

If we are honest with ourselves, we agree the way we move around Greater Cambridge needs to change. Perhaps I am more sensitive to it – but transport seems to be the go to topic whether I am waiting for a bus, sitting in the hairdressers or heading for a night out. The question I often hear is am I going to get to where I need to go on time.

This is where our work at the Greater Cambridge Partnership comes in.

For those who need reminding, we were created when the City Deal was signed cross-party in 2014. Our task was simple, yet bold: make growth in Greater Cambridge a success by sharing prosperity.

Ten years later, our booming region is leading the resurgence of the UK economy. For us to sustain the growth that we know is coming, vital infrastructure needs to be put in place to support new homes, jobs and as well as the government’s ambitions for Cambridge to become Europe’s science capital.

Our detractors would like to pretend that the progress we’ve made in the last decade does not exist. Luckily for all of us who use that infrastructure every day, it’s all around us.

Thousands of people every day walk and cycle directly from Cambridge North to Coldham’s Common via the new Abbey-Chesterton bridge. Phase one of the Chisholm Trail (pictured below) has brought everyone living in the most deprived parts of the city within a 10-minute cycle of a rail station. Phase two will finally close the long awaited loop with Cambridge and Cambridge North stations. (Column continues below.)

Chisholm Trail opening event

"The award-winning Histon Road project has brought significant improvements to all journeys by making a previously difficult road much safer for all users. Milton Road will undergo a similar transformation when it opens later this year.

Our 12 new Greenways are connecting surrounding towns and villages to Cambridge opening up opportunities for a family bike ride, safe travel to school or simply a walk which never existed before.

In collaboration with our partners we have already delivered 32 new electric buses and ensured free parking at the city’s Park & Ride sites.

Why stop there, when I could mention bus priority measures and safety improvements along the A1307, 152 additional parking spaces at the Babraham Road Park & Ride site as part of CSETs phase one, our innovative trial of autonomous vehicles, smart signals and providing real time travel data to people using our smart dashboard.

I will leave it to others to question some of the assumptions behind the Government’s ‘Case for Cambridge’, but I was pleased the Chancellor announced in his budget further investment into Cambridge to help unlock some of the barriers to growth, including £7.2m for phase two of our CSET scheme. CSET2 is a vital part of supporting the growing number of hospitals and life changing research facilities at the Biomedical Campus. By enabling staff and visitors to access the site from a wide area, more lives can be saved every day.

As many in our position have said before, this is about all of us working with the common aim of making Greater Cambridge a better place for our residents and communities now and in the future. I am proud that the GCP is at the forefront of leading this work and we can now progress more of our plans with renewed government backing."