New report highlights three top political priorities for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough metro mayor

Introducing a congestion charge in Cambridge, addressing low skill levels in Peterborough and developing a plan to deal with the region’s housing and business needs should be top of the new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough metro mayor’s to-do list when they take office in May

Press release published on 23 March 2017

This is according to new analysis published today by the think tank Centre for Cities, which sets out three policy priorities to help the region’s metro mayor hit the ground running from the start of their term.

Andrew Carter, Deputy Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said: “The new metro mayor will face unique challenges when they take office, including addressing the different issues that Cambridge and Peterborough face, as well as acting on their campaign pledges, preparing the region for Brexit, and establishing the new mayoral office. To make a success of the role, it’s vital that the mayor acts quickly to tackle the region’s biggest political priorities.”

The Centre for Cities analysis includes one ‘quick policy win’ to set the tone for the mayor’s time in office, along with two long-term strategic priorities for the city-region:

Priority one (quick policy win in early days of office)

Fund improvements to public transport and tackle traffic problems by introducing a congestion charge in Cambridge

Andrew Carter said: “Congestion has long been an issue in Cambridge, and this problem is only likely to increase as the city’s economy continues to grow in the years to come. Introducing a congestion charge would help to manage traffic in the city more effectively, and would also generate revenue which can be used to improve public transport in both Cambridge and other parts of the region – for example, increasing bus links to less well connected rural places, and investing in better cycle networks. This would not only cut down on traffic, it would give people across the region better access to jobs and opportunities in the city.”

Long-term strategic priorities

Develop a spatial plan to meet the housing and commercial space needs of different parts of the region 

Andrew Carter said: “One of the big challenges the mayor faces will be addressing the different needs of Cambridge and Peterborough, and putting in place a spatial plan that recognises these diverse issues will be vital. For example, Cambridge is one of the least affordable cities in the UK and has an acute shortage of housing, and so the mayor should use the new devolved housing fund to support more homes being built in the city. In contrast, the big challenge for Peterborough is attracting more high-skilled businesses and jobs, and so the new mayor should invest in making the city centre more attractive to firms – for example, by improving office space, transport links and public space.”

Address low skills levels in Peterborough

Andrew Carter said: “Fewer than half of pupils in Peterborough get five good GCSEs – one of the lowest rates in the country – and the city is also home to a relatively small share of residents educated to degree level. The mayor should work with the area’s new Education Commissioner to improve educational attainment in the city’s schools, especially in Maths and English. They should also invest in training for people already in work in the city, with a particular focus on improving numeracy and literacy skills. This will be vital in giving young people in the city the best possible career prospects, and in attracting better paid jobs to the area.”

Andrew Carter continued: “There’s a lot at stake for the new mayor, and showing that they mean business from day one will not only be vital in building trust with local people across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough  – it will also be crucial in achieving their vision for the city region and securing the long-term future of the mayoral office.”



Notes to editors

Nigel Hugill, Chair of Centre for Cities, is also Executive Director for Urban & Civic, which is overseeing the Alconbury Weald housing development in Cambridgeshire. To avoid any conflict of interest, Nigel has not been involved with the writing and development of this briefing.

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