Congestion charging is a controversial subject in any county. But in Cambridgeshire it could become a reality on roads such as the A14. IAN MACKELLAR finds out what the latest thinking is at Shire Hall. THE county council's quest for a revenue-neutral congestion charging regime has something of Three Men in a Boat about it. It knows where it wants to get to, but isn't quite sure about the route or the timetable. Or even whether it will want to get there at all. What will not happen, it promises, is that it will recommend a scheme to the Government that does not have the county's road users' support. The starting point is that there is too much car traffic in Cambridge city and that, with huge expansion planned for other market towns in the county - notably Huntingdon, Ely and March - congestion will become far worse there, too. The A10 between Cambridge and Ely, Hartford Road in Huntingdon and the B1090 between the A14 and St Ives are singled out in early studies as sure-fire congestion blackspots in a £770,000 study Cambridgeshire County Council is carrying out for the Government, with 50 per cent Whitehall funding. The first part of the process was to put numbers to the problem, from which it emerged that morning peak traffic in Cambridge (on a do-nothing scenario) is forecast to increase by more than 10 per cent in the next 15 years as thousands of new homes are built in the county - 11,200 in Huntingdonshire alone. This may not seem particularly daunting. But add 10 per cent to roads that are already heavily congested and you get gridlock. A decade before charging was introduced in central London, congestion was estimated to be costing the capital's economy £15billion a year in lost output. Although no one has done the sums for Cambridgeshire, delays on the A14, in Cambridge and the market towns are almost certainly into 10 figures - more than £1billion. As a major contributor to national wealth, Cambridgeshire should be one of the first in line for further Government funding to reduce this burden on commerce and industry, says the county council's deputy leader, Councillor John Reynolds.