A weekday peak-time-only road user charge is being proposed by the Greater Cambridge Partnership as part of a package of revised measures to overhaul the city’s transport network.

The proposals also include 50 free days for car users and a 50 per cent discount for locally-owned SMEs.

Further hospital exemptions have also been added, and the charge for motorcyclists has been scrapped.

The announcement follows a public consultation on the proposed Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ), which found 58 per cent of respondents did not want any form of congestion charging.

Two protests were held against the proposals – and a march was held in favour of the zone, with a number of petitions rejecting the proposals also launched. Those against the plans said any congestion charge scheme would have an “extremely adverse effect” on residents and businesses.

One petition, which is currently still active, and calls for all proposals that include congestion charging to be “rejected outright” has been signed by more than 4,000 people.

GCP chief executive Rachel Stopard said of the revised proposals: “We have listened to people’s concerns and feedback during the consultation and taken action by revising our proposals.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to future-proof our public transport network and reduce our dependency on the car by creating a low cost, secure, reliable and viable option for residents, workers, students and visitors who want to quickly and easily get around our beautiful city.

“We simply cannot afford to do nothing – the growth of our city’s economy means that we need to urgently solve the problem of congestion that blights our roads.

“Greater Cambridge needs to tackle the congested roads, fund more electric buses and new, reliable and cheaper services. Although the updated measures are not the preferred option that we presented originally, we believe that the revised proposal is fair to everybody, those on a low income, small businesses, families, people accessing healthcare and workers and residents who simply want to travel around Cambridge without being stuck in congestion. We aim to provide a cleaner, greener and healthier future for all.”

The STZ fee remains the same under the revised proposals, with car drivers, even those living in the city, charged £5, vans will face a £10 fee and HGVs and coaches will pay £50.

But the charging period will change from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm under the original proposals to between 7.00 am and 10.00 am and then 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm.

The GCP says this change restricts charging to the times of day when traffic is heaviest and allows greater freedom for people to move around, and, for example, deliveries to be received in the middle of the day.

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