Responding to news that Cardiff’s Labour-run council is going ahead with investigating options to bring in a road user payment scheme, the leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Cardiff Council Councillor and General Election Candidate for Cardiff Central, Rodney Berman, said:
“Any proposal for a significant congestion charging scheme must have support from the people of the city. Given that Labour did not include a specific plan for such a scheme in its manifesto for last year’s local elections, we don’t therefore know that a congestion charge scheme would have the required level of public support. If the council wants to proceed to introduce one, it should make its case and then put that to a referendum of Cardiff’s residents.
“I am very concerned that Labour leaders want to make an ‘in-principle’ decision that there should be a road user payment scheme before they do any consultation, with any decision afterwards simply being about what form it should take. This is quite frankly outrageous, but it’s something we are seeing repeatedly from Huw Thomas’s arrogant Labour administration – they did the same recently with their plan to hand the running of St David’s Hall over to a private company.
“The council needs to demonstrate that any proposal for a congestion charge, or any other form of road user payment scheme, would bring clear benefits. We have long since argued there needs to be major improvements in public transport provision in Cardiff before any charging scheme could be considered. And yet, we have repeatedly seen bus routes withdrawn across the city and the promised benefits of the South Wales Metro scheme still seem a long way off into the future. We have also recently seen the loss of the park and ride service to the city centre from Pentwyn, with the bus link having been withdrawn. So currently, we are very much going in the wrong direction.
“The jury is therefore out, with many people feeling the current council’s policies are contributing to the increasing congestion we have been seeing on the city’s roads including on our key arterial routes. We will be watching the outcome from any consultation with interest. It has to be seen as genuine consultation, and one way that could be achieved would be if the council committed to putting the outcome from it out to a referendum before any final decision is taken on whether or not to go ahead.”