Work together to find solutions

PUBLISHED: 15:02 10 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:59 11 May 2010

FROM all levels of government we are told that we must get out of our cars and use public transport. In South Cambridgeshire, vehicle use is a piece of our carbon footprint that puts us off the charts. We have a rail infrastructure but it is becoming in

FROM all levels of government we are told that we must get out of our cars and use public transport.

In South Cambridgeshire, vehicle use is a piece of our carbon footprint that puts us off the charts.

We have a rail infrastructure but it is becoming increasingly expensive and therefore inaccessible to many residents who would use it if they could.

We have a bus service that is practically non-existent in many villages. We want to make a difference but we can't.

First Capital Connect, the rail operator, has responded to a grassroots campaign to protect and improve services from Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton stations, by sending its managing director to a packed and fiery public meeting in Meldreth.

Proposals to cut Meldreth station booking office opening hours have been amended and a Saturday service saved.

FCC has promised further dialogue on car park charges, disabled access, and student discount schemes, and local people fully intend to hold First Capital Connect to this commitment.

The sight of young people at a public meeting is rare. But a large number came.

Many who attended were severely disabled young people who came in wheelchairs over badly maintained pavements on a cold and rainy night, with questions pre-recorded on portable CD players so that their voices could be heard and their concerns about mobility and public transport be listened to.

The absent face was Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC), the local authority with the remit for highways and infrastructure, accountable to taxpayers.

CCC had been in discussion with the rail operator to explore options for student discount schemes, but that discussion ended when CCC made its rail officer post redundant.

There would have been tough questions to face had it decided to accept an invitation to send a cabinet member.

We've got a crisis. People need affordable, accessible transport. Climate change demands action now. It is the duty of local authorities and transport providers to work together and find solutions. We are waiting.

Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat

District Councillor

Meldreth and Shepreth

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