North West Cambridgeshire is a constituency that is made up of both urban and rural areas. Many people living in this constituency have suffered at the hands of fierce budget cuts with regards to transportation. As Parliamentary Candidate for North West Cambridgeshire I am campaigning to make much needed improvements to the local transport system that serves both our villages and urban hubs.
The local link bus services faced the axe in 2013 and this has caused many residents much distress and concern. During the campaign, one women stood on her doorstep, staring in disbelief at the news of the local link cuts and said ‘I am not sure how I will travel to work if this service is cut.’ Although we campaigned against these cuts, they went on regardless. I am now campaigning with the Green Party to ensure residents have access to a comprehensive plan for fully accessible transport will be implemented, so that public transport will be usable by all members of the public.
Residents are not only telling me that transport is too infrequent, but also, that it is too costly. For many people weekly and day riders are rocketing in price all the time and they are struggling to find money from their own incomes or lack of incomes to keep up with rocketing price of fares. It is a huge barrier to find work or even get to work or places of training on a low income or no income.
Peterborough was named and shamed on as the worst place in Britain to be without a car. It is at the foot of the table in the Campaign for Better Transport’s 2014 Car Dependency Scorecard and researchers concluded “While the historic centre is densely packed and walkable, more-recent development has been spread more sparsely around the edges of the city”.
This new city, designated in 1967, could have been built with public transport at its heart. Instead, it comes last in many of the survey’s rankings. Researchers found that “reliance on cars is the highest of all the cities”.
I understand how difficult it is to live in the area without a car as I did not learn to drive until I was 26 and had to carry my tiny Son around on the back of my bike. In the end though, I gave in and learnt to drive. In 2012 I lost a car for a year due to not being able to afford one. This made access to my work very difficult and although the public transport was okay, it meant I needed to book many taxis to always get to where I needed on time and ready to work with the organisations I needed too.
I understand what it was like as a young child growing up in a place where you had to catch two buses to get to the local ice rink and at times, buses ran late and you missed your connecting bus. Teenagers should not be left hanging around at bus stations in the dark and cold, we should be providing the best for people who rely on these services. Transport needs to be equitably accessible to all people irrespective of their age, wealth or disability, with local needs given priority over travelling greater distances.
The new township of Hampton, was originally intended to house a new train station, unfortunately these plans have not developed into fruition. This had led to further reliance on car use that have caused huge issues for residents in the Hampton area. Hampton was originally planned with the intention of having a railway built and the huge Tesco’s is the perfect site for it. We do not need to buy more ‘stuff’, we need more access to new places, new experiences and to those we love in far reached places, to work, to training places.
A new train station in Hampton will develop much need infrastructure for North West Cambridgeshire, for those who need to commute via the A1 and A14 as well as around the parkways, which are at times, hugely overburdened. A railway would created cleaner air and our environment and people healthier. The Green Party are committed to developing better local and regional railway infrastructures. I will be campaigning to ensure that planning requirements for new housing will need to ensure they are close to a range of services and are well served by public transport and reinstate plans to reintroduce a new Train Station in Hampton, as originally planned.