SENIOR councillors have backed a £7.5million plan to improve transport in St Neots, but more needs to be done to address longer-term congestion, they agreed last week. The plan, which will be partly funded by developer contributions, particularly from the

SENIOR councillors have backed a £7.5million plan to improve transport in St Neots, but more needs to be done to address longer-term congestion, they agreed last week.

The plan, which will be partly funded by developer contributions, particularly from the 1,350-homes Loves Farm and up to 5,000 additional homes that may come forward south of that development, includes improving traffic control in the town centre and additional cycling and pedestrian facilities.

The St Neots Market Town Transport Strategy, which is aimed at reducing congestion, improving air quality, reducing emissions and increase bus use, cycling and walking, is divided into five phases. Funding is expected to come from a variety of sources, including developer contributions as the town resumes its rapid expansion after the economy recovers. That timescale will, in part, determine the speed at which the strategy is implemented.

But Huntingdonshire District Council's cabinet last week said more needed to be done to address growth that could see the town's population rise to over 40,000 over the next 15 years.

Although they agreed that congestion was improving in the town centre, parking at and near the station remained a problem, particularly because of the high charges at St Neots station, said Councillor Andrew Hansard. There were also issues about co-ordinating bus and rail timetables.

"My main concern is St Neots expanding from 28,000 to 40,000 population or even more," he added. "There are already 14,000 vehicle movements in the High Street, and you can see that expanding to an impossible degree. We particularly need to look at river crossings."

Director of environment and community services Malcolm Sharp said further transport study work was being funded by HDC, Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridgeshire Horizons, the not-for-profit company set up to deliver £4.1billion of infrastructure needed to support rapid population expansion in the Cambridge sub-region.

"But the days of [locally-funded] major capital projects, such as road bridges across rivers are probably long gone," he warned.

nHuntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly has met train operator First Capital Connect to press for a review of station parking charges.

"I have been aware for quite some time that some constituents are unhappy with various aspects of the train station in St Neots. I am pleased that First Capital Connect has agreed to go away and look at the pricing structure on the route as St Neots is currently one of the most expensive car parks on the line," he said this week.

"It is also good news that the capacity of the trains is set to increase as of May by about 15 per cent, and I am hopeful that this will create a more comfortable commute for the hundreds of people that travel up to London everyday.'

"We also discussed the proposals for a new bridge that will cater for disabled people, and other proposed improvements.