The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ) will impact businesses and the self-employed in and around Cambridge. Many such small businesses rely on being able to move their goods and tools, and provide services.
Many are so call jobbing workers who move between different jobs during the day. Others may work all day at a particular site for a week, month, or more. The Zone, an actual Cambridge resident(s), apologises for what the GCP plans to do to your business.
If you rely daily on a small van, LGV Class in DVLA speak, you are going to be incurring a new direct cost of £2,510 per year. Per vehicle. If you use an HGV class, then you fair a little worse at £12,550 a year, per vehicle.
Of course, these are just the direct costs to your business. We also have to look at the impact on your customers. For those who require a car to enter, leave, or just move around Cambridge they will also be charged £5 a day to do so. They could have £1,255 less per year to spend.
Let us look at the bigger picture. Not just the small stuff, the annual winners and losers in the Cambridge area.
The GCP Strategic Outline Case (SOC) contains the following table. This table estimates how many of what class of vehicle will be charged in the STZ per day.
Ignore the Morning Peak Only data. This data is of no use. The GCP has discounted that as a non-starter. It simply doesn’t bring in enough cash. So only the All Day data, covering the 0700-1900 weekday charge, is of interest.
Let us do some serious work with our abacus and extrapolate the All Day numbers over a working year of 251 days and convert them to cash.
Car driving customers will have £76,209,875 (£76.2 million) less a year to spend in the Cambridge area in 2026 and £90,408,945 (£90.4 million) by 2031. We shall ignore any hike in car parking charges.
Businesses operating in Cambridge area will incur direct expenses per year of £58,312,320 (£58.3 million) in 2026 increasing to £60,960,370 (£60.9 million) in 2031.
Suppose there is less money for people to spend, and your direct business costs go up. In that case, the annual dis-benefit to businesses operating in the Cambridge area is £133,522,195 (£133.5 million) in 2026 rising to £151,369,315 (£151.3 million) in 2031. A not insignificant sum of money.
They are just the basic cash terms. It doesn’t include other items, such as any of your customers who chose to shop elsewhere, where there is no charge. Customers who make it in by bus or cycle. According to some ardent STZ supporters on social media they could be loaded now. They may have sold their cars and embraced the paradigm shift the GCP is selling. However, they cannot buy what they cannot carry on the bus or strap to their cycle. Maybe plan on selling them only small things?
Naturally, this is a simple view of things. Those far more intelligent than the Zone will write lists of why this is all wrong and why the indirect benefits will negate all the raw numbers. The Zone agrees this does disregard all the potential savings to a business by being able to get to an appointment a couple of minutes sooner (a key point the GCP will make every time you raise concerns).
According to the GCP, all this time saved per day, per business will mitigate these direct costs of paying the charge. Simple. The Zone wishes firms in and around Cambridge well in recouping some total costs of £60.9 million a year. All you have to do is work that little bit harder and squeeze a few more customers into your day to cover the cost of the charge.
The other favourite response from the GCP is traders should batch their visits in the zone, so be more efficient and save money. Which is fine if you call for an emergency plumber to discover that today isn’t their Cambridge day – so you will have to paddle around that little bit longer.
If you work at a single site for days, weeks, or even months as many tradespeople do. Well, you’re out of luck, I’m afraid. Could you ask for a raise?
If you can figure out who the winners are here, answers on a postcard….