Closure of Mill Road Bridge for Railway Works Summer 2019

The bridge re-opened just before the start of the schools’ Autumn Term. This page has been left as a record of some of the issues which arose. It is not intended for updates, and has now been locked for comments.

Let’s carry on the debate about how we, local residents and traders, see the future for Mill Road – on the Mill Road – what route for the future? page.


Traders’ Survey

We have received the following communication from Shapour Meftah, Chair, Mill Road Traders’ Association. It is the view of Shapour, but not necessarily of Mill Road Bridges. We are approaching all of the city and county councillors on both sides of the bridge and invite their comments.

Following our recent survey which we managed to reach up to 90% of the traders with shops on the Romsey side. We found that the impact from the Mill Road bridge closure to the traffic has caused a significant loss in takings from 25% up to 60%.

Some Traders are thinking of ceasing trade as their takings have reached well below the threshold to survive. All traders are asking for some sort of compensation and I strongly believe it is their right to do so.

As the Chair of the Mill Road Traders I will use all available resources to help them with their request. The other important information that arose from our survey was about the so-called idea of parklet, which is supposed to be a well consulted plan with Romsey Traders.  From the survey we carried out, we found the following:

  • 90% of traders are against
  • 4% in favour
  • 4% Not sure
  • 2% not spoken to (shops closed or shop owner was not available).

The above statistics show that this project was not consulted in detail with the Romsey traders and was rushed through by the Romsey ward team. My understanding, from the meetings we had with the authorities, that Govia has allocated a sum of money for both sides of Mill Road in respect of trying to help the traders and Mill Road communities to overcome and survive the Mill Road bridge closure time. I am very grateful that on the Petersfield side of Mill Road, we had lots of positive meetings which were organised by County Councillor Linda Jones. Her approach to traders and residents was both realistic and clear. We are very pleased with the outcome of all her decisions and we believe she has worked hard to achieve what is best for Petersfield. We would like to acknowledge our gratitude to her and her team.

My position as the Chair for Mill Road Traders is to look after both sides of the bridge and make sure the Romsey side benefits from this money too. I am not sure how much of this money has been allocated towards the parklet project and how this project has been granted. As it stands now this project is not well-planned and consulted therefore, I am asking people who are responsible for it to halt the project and listen to the voice of their constituents and use the money for better purposes. Some suggestions given by traders are:

  • Targeted advertising and publicity run by the Mill Road Traders’ Association
  • Equipment that can be used for other events i.e Community events
  • Improving disability access on Mill Road
  • Ad hoc events such as a Community lunch and networking events that can bring build a stronger community
  • Support for the Traders in need
  • Training and Skills workshops Traders and local Residents
  • Well informed policies that can deal with emergencies

Finally, I would like to emphasise the point that as responsible representatives of our community, our job is to listen, understand and care for the needs of our community.

Yours Sincerely
Shapour Meftah
Chair, Mill Road Traders’ Association
Tuesday 16th July 2019

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The Mill Road Summer team respond

The Mill Road Summer team has been confused and saddened by a press release from the Mill Road Traders which arrived by email on Tuesday afternoon, 16th July and which will be reported on in the local news in the coming days. We’ve consistently tried to encourage involvement from local traders in Mill Road Summer and we’re working hard to support them and everyone else in our local community during this challenging time.

Mill Road Summer was organised by volunteers, councillors and community groups in Romsey to be an umbrella festival for all of the events happening on Mill Road while the bridge is closed to cars. Numerous public events have been held over the past few months with the local community and traders invited to help shape the plans and budget for the Mill Road Summer.

Read the full response here. Dated Tuesday 16th July 2019

City Councillor Dave Baigent adds…

[W]e held public meetings for the whole of Mill Road and from these came a committee badged under the name of Mill Road Summer.  This committee includes Mill Road business and Camcyle and other people from the community including people and business from Petersfield. 

This group is using/going to use the money to provide events for the community that were designed to bring people onto Mill Road in the hope that the added footfall would in turn bring more trade to Mill Road businesses.  These events are collated by us with grants provided [from Govia Thameslink Railway] when they are needed.  Mill Road businesses are entitled to apply to be part of this, including obtaining grants for their events.  We have repeatedly invited Mill Road Traders to our meetings…

Matters of financial compensation for Traders through a loss of trade are not part of our brief.  

Dave Baigent FIFire E. FHEA.BA Hons. PhD.
Cambridge City Councillor for Romsey, Thursday 18
th July 2019

County Councillor Linda Jones adds…

Govia stated that we could use up to £15k for community related events in [the] Petersfield part of Mill Rd and the same for Romsey.

Linda Jones
Cambridgeshire County Councillor for Romsey, Thursday 18
th July 2019

A trader adds…

Just to add to the melée: events/promotion executed “here” with financial support from Govia that benefit BOTH sides of the Bridge include:— Mill Road map update— 6 ads in Cambridge Independent showing both sides of the Bridge, saying that Mill Road is open for business — Boot Sales open to all, including the wider Cambridgeshire audience of the Cambridge Independent.
Pamela Wesson, Fantasia, Thursday 18th July 2019

Our readers can add their own comments, below.

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Cambridge motorists to be monitored by smart sensors on selected roads

Whilst arguments rage about whether surrounding roads will be overwhelmed with motor traffic, during the closure of Mill Road bridge, it is worth noting that fifteen sensors have been installed on Mill Road and surrounding streets to record the number of pedestrians, bicycles, cars and other vehicles.
The data, to be analysed by the Smart Cambridge programme, will help the Greater Cambridge Partnership understand how people use the road network in the city.
Read more.

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Will closing Mill Road create mayhem or show us the future of low-car living?

Another thoughtful contribution from Edward Leigh of Smarter Cambridge Transport

As a society we accept that ‘rat running’ is bad and removing through traffic from residential areas is good. But we take the opposite view when the road in question has shops or is an ‘arterial’ route.

Plenty of research studies have shown that people who walk or cycle to a street spend more than those who drive there. And Mill Road isn’t really an arterial route: it only runs out as far as the outer ‘ring’ road. Would the impact of its closure be acceptable long-term? Let’s see: unlike mathematical models, real-life experiments give you real answers. Cameras have been set up to monitor changes in vehicle, cycle and pedestrian traffic on Mill Road and diversionary routes.

Read the full article.

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Traders & Community Special Events

Click the image to download a printable PDF of this poster (2.5 MB)

Click here to book a car boot pitch.

For details of all Bridge Closed – Street Open events click this link.

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Traders’ Affected By Bridge Closure Signage?

Was the closure or the signage (now amended) the biggest problem?

Many thanks to Sonia Hansen, Traffic Manager, Highways Service, Cambridgeshire County Council for ensuring that Businesses Open As Usual signage is installed at all access point to Mill Road, and to Glen Wakefield for following up problems with bus access.

There was considerable concern amongst Mill Road’s traders about the wording of the yellow and red warning notices on Perne Road, East Road and Gonville Place, which read:




This, latter, was also the signage at the Coleridge Road junction.

See the Traffic Management Plan, below.

Whilst these did the job of ensuring that vehicle drivers are warned against attempting to use the full length of Mill Road as a through route, they failled to make clear that:

  • the full length of Mill Road is accessible by foot and cycle (other than GTR’s planned total closure periods);
  • all Petersfield’s shops, cafés, restaurants and services are accessible, up to Devonshire Road, from the East Road junction;
  • the Gwydir Street car park is accessible from the East Road junction;
  • all Romsey’s shops, cafés, restaurants and services are accessible, up to Argyle Street, from the Perne Road junction;
  • the Great Eastern Street car park, the Mill Road Co-op car park and Cutlack’s car park are accessible from the Perne Road and Coleridge Road junctions.

Some traders were reporting a dramatic drop in volume of trade.

We enquired about what the Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways Service could do to ameliorate this situation.

Many thanks to Sonia Hansen, Traffic Manager, Highways Service, Cambridgeshire County Council for ensuring that Businesses Open As Usual signage is installed at all access point to Mill Road, and to Glen Wakefield for following up problems with bus access.

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Traders ask: Who’s in Charge?

We have received this forwarded email from Kobir Ahmed, Owner, Prana Indian Restaurant. It is the personal opinion of Kobir and does not necessarily reflect the view of Mill Road Bridges. It is published here to show the intensity of feelings about the ongoing railway and gas works.

We will of course publish any responses from public bodies, utilities and councillors.

I would like to formally bring to your attention my major concerns regarding the road closure, these views are supported by all traders that I have visited over the last couple of days, and can be seen on Twitter.

If things don’t improve, us traders will hold a protest rally, meaning blocking the road to all traffic and not allowing lorries to get to the bridge. 

It’s all good and well closing a road for the benefit of others such as the council and contractors but this is a main road and shops depend on passing trade and also people not being told the road is closed.

The biggest impact on my business is trade has fallen by 50% since the road closure,  as a small business I can’t afford to lose business like this, how to you expect me to pay rent, rates and wages at this rate? At first I thought things will be ok but now I am very worried if I can’t stay open in a few weeks!

There are other issues that is causing us traders concerns. 

  1. There is no proper communication, no one knows what happening, everything is a mess. There are bridge closures, gas pipes works it seems the council have allowed different works all happening at the same time! This makes the road more avoidable to passing traffic. It currently takes 20 mins to get from top of Mill Road to St Barnabas’ church due to extra traffic lights etc.
    Customers are avoiding Mill Road as they think Mill Road is closed! There needs to be more signage promoting businesses are open! And why has the gas works beenallowed to happen at the same time.
  2. Since the road closure we are not getting passing trade, mill road is a tourist attraction the foot fall has fallen off massively and we are not attracting business. All business in reply in passing trade. We can’t just expect locals to visit us.
  3. We are having potential customers calling us today to ask if we are open? 

To remedy some concerns here are things we need to havelooked at. 

  1. Rates: the council need to compensate traders. Should we be expected to pay full rates when the road is closed off?
  2. Compensation for traders for lost trade. Who is taking responsibility for this?
  3. The Gwydir Street car park needs to be free for the duration of the works. We need people to be encouraged to come to Mill Road. People are not aware that there is access to Mill Road and that they can park at the car park. It’s been empty all last week and this week.
  4. Mill Road is open sign, we need more signage to say Mill Road is open.
  5. Council to invest money in advertising Mill Road.
  6. The train companies will make £billions while we lose out. Cambridge council would have received £thousands for this road closure, where is this money going ? Why aren’t locals and traders having a say? The council would also get hefty fees for the gas works at the expenses of business. 

We need answers and actions, I hope you can rally our anger, as it looks like no one is listening 

We need business friendly policies not anti-business policies.

I hope you can channel this to your stakeholders as things unfortunately will only get worse.

Kobir Ahmed, Owner, Prana Indian Restaurant

Editor’s notes:

  • There does seem to be confusion over who is responsible for what. There were problems with communications form Triio to Stagecoach over closing the Gwydir Street bus stop which I, personally, observed.
  • Kobir claims that “The train companies will make £billions while we lose out.” What is the case is that GTR, for whose depot development the bridge is closed was implicated in the disastrous mess of the May 2018 timetable change and (see elsewhere in this post) has provoked anger amongst the Mill Road community for poor communications.
  • Kobir claims that “Cambridge council would have received £thousands for this road closure”. Would that there only the one (unitary) authority for the Greater Cambridge region. (See Smarter Cambridge Transport’s graphic, below.) And would that GTR’s largesse stretched to £thousands in the city’s coffers.
  • Whether the residential council tax payer should fund a cut in business rates for these traders is a moot point. Certainly GTR should be pushed to compensate traders for proven losses.
  • Similarly, making the Gwydir Street car park free, might seem attractive, until we consider whether the spaces would be snapped up by rail commuters who wish to avoid charges at the station car park.
  • We are, again, indebted to Sonia Hansen, Traffic Manager, Highways Service, Cambridgeshire County Council for clarifying many of these matters, in an email to Piero d’Angelico, of Mill Road Traders.

Local City Councillors have been approached for comment.

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A Traffic Manager explains…

Dear Mr D’Angelico,

I really appreciate your frustrations. In response to your queries –

  1. Business rates are dealt with by the City Council and I have forwarded your email to them as they would be the ones to advise if there are any circumstances in which rebates can be applied for.
  2. You would need to contact the works promotors directly regarding compensation schemes.
  3. Gwydir Street Car Park is City Council so you will need to contact them directly. I have copied in Sean Cleary who manages City Car Parks.
  4. We have changed the Variable Message Signs around the city to say ‘Mill Road closed at Bridge’ as opposed to ‘Mill Road Closed’ and I have requested that ‘Businesses Open as Usual’ signs are put out and I have seen these in place.
  5. The County Council does not have a budget for advertising Mill Road. It may be something that the City Council or Visit Cambridge could advise you on.
  6. Permit fees paid by utilities are used to administer the permit system and coordinate the works. Fees for road closures cover the costs of advertising and administering the order. We do not profit from permit fees and road closure orders. Letters were sent to all business and residents of Mill Road by Cadent on 16th June 2019 informing them of the works and need for access to premises to reconnect supplies. There were community meetings held in the run up to the works.

I do apologise for any inconvenience that you are experiencing during these essential works.

I hope this helps to clarify your queries.

Kind regards,

Sonia Hansen
Traffic Manager
Highways Service
Cambridgeshire County Council

County Councillor Linda Jones adds…

Many thanks Sonia, a helpful and clear response – and I think Piero’s email reflected specific frustrations at the time.

We have now had more problems in Petersfield  with the terrible fire in Gees electrical store so are all feeling a bit battered!

However, we have worked with traders and residents throughout as Piero can testify and Triio and Cadent are getting really good at communicating with traders in a timely way. Just as important, Govia [responsible for railway works]  Mill Road Depot staff, [gas grid operators] Cadent, [Cambridgeshire County Council Highways] Streetworks and [gas engineering contractors] Triio are talking to each other because all the works impact on others. I met with them all yesterday and we worked out a sequence that takes advantage of the closure due to the fire and gets some gas works done while allowing room for Mill Road depot lorries to enter/exit.

[County Highways officers] Ben Ely and Bob Turner were there and really helpful in facilitating a positive outcome.

I went to check this morning and the traders had been given a briefing from Cadent/Triio.

So good news too – out of the disruption…

All the best,

Linda Jones
Cambridgeshire County Councillor for Romsey, Thursday 18
th July 2019

Our readers can add their own comments, below.

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Total closure to pedestrians

Latest closure dates/times

Following Cllr Dave Baigent’s negotiations with GTR, they agreed to reduce the days the pedestrian/cycle access would be unavailable. Currently the last total closure dates have now taken place.

GTR’s latest leaflet can be viewed downloaded here.

During the planned pedestrian closure on Friday 5th & Saturday 6th July 2019 08:45 – 20:45 – there was no advisory pedestrian/cycle route signage to direct people via the Carter Cycle Bridge, mid-morning.

One pedestrian who had walked up Devonshire Road from the station, with the intention of crossing the Mill Road Bridge to Romsey, was less than pleased to learn that she would need to retrace her steps.

We contacted officers from Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways Service, asking, “Could GTR/Spencer we asked to urgently install pedestrian/cycle route signage at Devonshire Road, and the cycle bridge in Petersfield, and at Argyle Street, Stockwell Street, Cockburn Street, Charles Street, Greville Road and the cycle bridge in Romsey?”

We would like to record our thanks to Sonia Hansen, Traffic Manager and to Ben Ely, Street Works Inspector for taking action.

If GTR and their contractors, Spencer Group, were doing their jobs properly, there would be no need for this confusion.

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GTR Deceit – or Two Men in a Van,
Sucking Through Teeth?

Despite having a temporary footbridge in the 1980s when Mill Road bridge was rebuilt as part of the 1980s electrification programme, to accommodate the overhead electric line equipment, it’s apparently to possible nowadays.

See more below.

Govia Thameslink had agreed to provide a footbridge for pedestrians during the closure of Mill Road bridge and had stated that the footbridge would be closed for one week and ‘occasional closure’. Govia has, at the last minute, increased the closures to affect four weekends.

Previously announced closure dates/times

  • Friday 5 July until Monday 8 July – from 8.45am until 8.45pm each day
  • Thursday 11 July until Saturday 13 July – from 8.45am until 8.45pm each day
  • Sunday 28 July until Wednesday 31 July – from 8.45am until 8.45pm each day
  • Saturday 3 August until Monday 5 August – from 8.45am until 8.45pm each day

Local City Councillor, Dave Baigent is ‘shocked’ at this last-minute change. Asking the rhetorical question: “Should we be surprised at Govia’s change in closure arrangements?” adding, “This last minute change, without any discussion, effectively cuts Romsey off from Cambridge City.”

Full statement on the Romsey Labour website.

Note: Mill Road Bridges is not politically aligned. Currently all Cambridge City Councillors and Cambridgeshire County Councillors in Romsey and Petersfield are Labour. We seek to work with whosoever are out elected representatives.

This has, indeed, been taken up by the Cambridge Independent, and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

More on the Over Mill Road Bridge website: Govia Propose Total Bridge Closure Dates – Unacceptable!

Mill Road poet and tweeter Carol Ann Wood speaks for many many in the #MillRdCamb with her belief that: “they [GTR] had planned on no footbridge to start with.”

Local cartoonist, blogger and tweeter Mick Brown remembers a 1980’s footbridge. See more below.

Meanwhile, ageing #MillRdCamb trouble-maker Trouble Up t’Mill Rd ponders how GTR might be disrupted…

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Mill Road Summer


Whilst Mill Road Bridge is closed to vehicles, a variety of events are planned. We’ll try to keep you updated, but a dedicated Mill Road Summer website has been set up. Check it out! And get involved!
Email Andy or phone him if you can help.

Janet – see comment section, asks which roads the officially signed diversions will use for general traffic.

We contacted Cambridgeshire County Council, who kindly sent us a copy of the traffic management plan for the closure period. (PDF 2.9 MB)

Click the thumbnail to view/download the map

The County officer was also kind enough to remind us that:

Cadent Gas are taking the opportunity to carry out essential works to replace the gas main whilst the closure is in place and they will be working under temporary traffic signals.  Their works will start either side of the bridge working towards each end of Mill Road.

Sonia Hansen, Traffic Manager, Highways Service, Cambridgeshire County Council

This was already reported on here on the Over Mill Road Bridge website.

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Longer closure to motor vehicles

Local trader Piero sent us this update 22 May 2019, at 16:21, which contradicts what we were told at the most recent ‘consultation’ meeting with GTR. Others, however, insist that this has been superseded by the current plans for a temporary footbridge…

I have spoken to the Project Director at Cambridge and can confirm that the Mill Road Bridge will be totally closed to ALL vehicles for the 8-week closure.

There is a new plan for a temporary footpath across the bridge which will mean using the existing footpath at one side and then moving this to the other side when the works move across. 
The original idea for a footbridge wasn’t feasible when it went through the design stages due to the pinch point being too narrow to allow people to pass each other safely.

I hope this helps and I will let you know if I hear of any further developments, but please do contact me if I can be of any assistance.

Diane, GTR coordinator 

What is clear, however, is that from the very first GTR ‘consultation’ meeting, in Mill Lane, on Thursday 1 November 2018 we have been seriously concerned about the lack of effective communications from GTR with the local community.

Updates for bus services

During the traffic closure period of Mill Road Bridge to provide an enlarged arch for an additional tracks, shuttle bus services will be provided on both sides of the bridge. The ‘main’ citi2 route will be diverted via Coldham’s Lane.

In order to serve all existing stops, short wheelbase vehicles will be used. On the Petersfield side of the bridge, it’s planned to loop through Gwydir Street and Kingston Street. The Romsey shuttle is planned to use Argyle Street and Stockwell Street.

Transport campaigner and Mill Road resident, Susan Jourdain, reports that the shuttles will have a 20-minute frequency throughout current hours of operation.

Cambridge Area Bus Users informs us that the company is bringing in three short wheelbase vehicles – one for each shuttle and a spare for maintenance/breakdowns. These are 15-seaters with space for a wheelchair. By using such small vehicles all existing stops, either side of the bridge, can be served.

However, the drawback is that the vehicles would not have the capacity to serve the Birdwood area and onwards to Addenbrooke’s.

A 15-seat Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, of the type to be used on the shuttles

Is this good enough?

Whilst the Petersfield shuttle might be adequate, as onward connections to Addenbrooke’s can be made from the adjacent stop in Emanuel Street, Romsey have got a poor deal, losing direct services to the hospital, with all buses terminating at Brooks Road Sainsbury’s. Cambridge Area Bus Users informs us that Stagecoach stressed the difficulties in obtaining extra vehicles and, crucially, planning for extra driver duties. Others have suggested that GTR specified the shuttle service, without consulting bus users or local residents. Certainly no-one from Mill Road Bridges was consulted by GTR.

Full timetables and route maps for the diverted citi2, the 2A (Petersfield) and 2B (Romsey) shuttles are now available on the Stagecoach East website.

Some supplementary service is needed. For example, a Romsey resident who has a GP appointment in Petersfield or vice-versa. Moreover, there is no single service for Romsey or Petersfield residents to get them to Addenbrooke’s. The Over Mill Road Bridge website reported (19/052019) “We have been in discussion with Cambridge Dial-A-Ride about the possibility that their service could help to plug the gaps in the Stagecoach provision.”

More on the Over Mill Road Bridge website: Bridge Closure – Update #1
(Note: Over Mill Road Bridge is a campaigning organisation set up in 2018 by Romsey & Petersfield Labour Party.)


We are now indebted to Mill Road trader Piero d’Angelico for the GTR ‘Final Update’ which clarifies:

While the Mill Road Bridge is closed, GTR have made arrangements with Cambridge Dial-a-Ride scheme to assist residents who would otherwise find it difficult to use the revised public transport provisions.

Dial-a-Ride operates a door to door service, and, for the duration of the bridge closure, this will be AVAILABLE WITHOUT CHARGE to residents who are unable to use the revised bus service and will be adversely affected by the closure. How to apply to use the service.

Complete the membership application form by visiting the Dial-a-Ride Individual membership page, or request an application form by calling 01223 506335 or sending an email to Dial-a-Ride

Be sure to tick the box that reads “I need help during the Mill Road Bridge Closure” when completing your application.

To book a journey, call the Dial-a-Ride booking service Monday-Friday 09.00-15.00 (9am-3pm) giving as much notice as possible of your journey.

GTR June update

Click to read/download download the GTR June update. (PDF 287 KB)

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From the very first GTR ‘consultation’ meeting, in Mill Lane, on Thursday 1 November 2018 we have been seriously concerned about the lack of effective communications with the local community.

Last Public Meeting

A public meeting was held on
MONDAY 29TH APRIL 2019 at 18:30

We only learned about this public meeting on Friday 26th April 2019. There was nothing on-line. No email alerts. Just a few leaflets through some letterboxes. GTR’s communications were dreadful. Despite this – or possibly because of some energetic emailing and tweeting there was a decent turn-out.

Total closure to vehicles is scheduled for 1st July to 25th August 2019

There was considerable anger expressed about the poor publicity, and the fact that the many local residents and groups who had signed up for email updates at the meeting held at the Earl of Beaconsfield in November 2018 had never received any communications whatsoever.

GTR Slides are linked here

There were, however updates in a powerpoint display which you can download as a PDF above.

A good report on the meeting can be found on the Over Mill Road Bridge website.

There are severe deficiencies in the proposed shuttle bus services (see p11 of the GTR/Spencer slideshow). This will need to be addressed.

We understand that slide 11 is an ‘indicative’ map. Detailed examination suggests that it is ‘indicative’ of poor research.

The indicative citi2 diversionary route – via Coldham’s Lane is reasonably accurate, although no account is taken of the ‘short turns’ at Brooks Road Sainsbury’s.

The indicative shuttle bus route 2A in Petersfield shows wrong-way running in Kingston Street, ignoring the one-way system. Even a Gwydir-Hooper-Kingston loop would be difficult given the tight junction at Hoper St / Kingston St and the narrowness of Kingston Street.

The only practical Petersfield solution is a Tenison Road – St Barnabas Road loop with a temporary stop by St Barnabas church.

Even then, Stagecoach would need to use a shorter vehicle, such as an Optare Solo midibus.

We now have more information of the vehicles to be deployed, see above.

A stand-alone shuttle might be acceptable, as Petersfield passengers could change to the citi 1 or 7 for Addenbrooke’s, in Emanuel Street. There is, however, a big question mark over the proposed frequency of this service.

Indicative shuttle bus route 2B in Romsey shows wrong-way running in Cockburn St, ignoring the one-way system, and the vehicle somehow travelling through the physical barrier at the Argyle St / Charles St junction.

The only practical Romsey solution is a Hope Street – Argyle Street – Cockburn Street loop with a temporary stop by Tesco.

Even then, Stagecoach would need to use a shorter vehicle, such as an Optare Solo midibus.

We now have more information of the vehicles to be deployed, see above.

The unacceptable feature of this indicative service is that it would appear to propose that Romsey residents are to be provided with only a shuttle link to Brooks Road Sainsbury’s, where they would be required to change buses for the city centre or for Addenbrooke’s. Guaranteeing connections would be well-nigh impossible.

Romsey residents are already annoyed at the service reduction (from a 10- to 20-minute frequency) to Addenbrooke’s. Similarly, whilst Birdwood Area Residents’ Association will retain the (already reduced) frequency to Addenbrooke’s and to the city centre, they will loose all links to Mill Road Broadway’s independent shops and cafés and to the new mosque.

An acceptable service would be for the diverted citi2 ‘short turns’ to continue from Brooks Road Sainsbury’s to Mill Road Broadway and for alternate buses from Mill Road Broadway to travel to Addenbrooke’s via the usual route.

Stagecoach, as a commercial bus operator, cannot be expected to fund the additional services – including the hiring-in of extra vehicles, and the additional driver duties – needed because of the closure of Mill Road Bridge. These costs should be met by GTR at whose behest Mill Road Bridge will be closed.

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Earlier posts

Update – Footbridge agreed

We are indebted to the  Over Mill Road Bridge website for this update: GTR promises temporary footbridge during bridge closure.

Also this article in the Cambridge Independent…

Mill Road Bridge to stay open to pedestrians during rail works

By Alex Spencer, 20/12/2018

Mill Rd Traders Association members against the closure of Mill Rd, from left Shapour Meftah, Piero D’angelico, Pamela Wesson and Abdul Arain. Picture: Keith Heppell. (6148942)

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has promised to instal the footbridge to allow pedestrian access between the areas of Romsey and Petersfield when Mill Road Bridge is closed for railway works beneath it in 2019.

And following weeks of protest from traders on Mill Road worried the closure would discourage shoppers, GTR has agreed to move the works from springtime to July and August, when many residents are on holiday, to lessen the impact on businesses. Read more…

A comment from a local resident

To The Editor.

I welcome the recent news that ‘Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail’ have agreed a temporary footbridge during the Mill Road Bridge closure. The seeds for this agreement were sown at their initial public meeting in the ‘Double Tree by Hilton Hotel’ in Granta Place on 1st November last year, where the proposal was put cogently and sensibly by representatives of the ‘Mill Road Traders’ Association’ and ‘Camcycle’, together with several residents of the Mill Road Area.

The ‘Thames Govia’ Managing Director, accompanied by a Chief Engineer for the project, listened attentively and recorded the contributions; and at subsequent open meetings in Mill Road the Company took on board further ideas for the construction, positioning and design of a temporary bridge in that location.

It is good to know that a balanced democratic approach has worked so well and, in my opinion, would have probably achieved this welcome result without making it into a Local Party Political Issue!


Edward L. Jenkins

Received by email at our contact email address, 11/01/2019.

Making the Most of the Bridge Closure

Could there be a silver lining to the closure of Mill Road Bridge to motor vehicles in 2019?

The idea of reducing the amount of motor vehicle traffic on Mill Road has been much discussed in recent years.  Benefits could include reduced pollution, safer cycling and walking, more reliable bus services and a more pleasant environment in which to live, work and shop.  But we’re all conscious of the potential downsides – eg the impact on traffic in surrounding roads, the inconvenience for private motorists in particular for disabled drivers and the elderly, and logistical problems for bulk deliveries to the shops and business on Mill Road.  The financial cost (or benefit) of reduced traffic on local shops and businesses is also unclear.

So given that the bridge has to be closed to vehicles for at least 8 weeks in 2019, there’s clearly an opportunity to better understand the impact of reducing traffic on this key Cambridge thoroughfare.

Add your own comments (pre-moderated) below. Or below the A traffic-free Mill Road? post.

Petition and other updates

See also updates on the  Over Mill Road Bridge petition website, set up by Romsey & Petersfield Labour Parties.

Mill Road Bridges is non-political and non-aligned but we welcome people of any political party (or none) and any religion (or none) who are sticking up for Mill Road.  And do sign the petition.

They report:

Sophie Barnett one of our Romsey City Councillors has invited Network Rail to a meeting with Romsey and Petersfield Councillors. She is waiting for a response. The Councillors will want to ask how Network Rail and Govia Thameslink can address resident and business concerns about the impact of the Bridge closure.

Noel Kavanagh, Cambs County Councillor for Romsey, has asked about the process Network Rail will follow to get permission to close the Bridge. They will need to apply for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO). Cambs County Council will publicise the Order, but there is no public consultation. So there is no direct consideration of public objections to the closure. We’ve asked Noel if he can find out how Cambs County Council will assess the TTRO application. We’re assuming the application will need to meet some criteria – what are they?

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Drop in meetings – Earl of Beaconsfield Tuesday 27th November 13:00 – 20:00 – Report-back.

Mill Road Bridges Treasurer, Richard Wood, attended one of these sessions, at which he was able to speak to GTR’s Kevin Parker, Head of RailPlan2020, a representative of Network Rail and of the contractors, Spencer Group.

Closure to motor-traffic

Reference was made to the rebuilding of Mill Road Bridge as part of the 1980s electrification programme, to accommodate the overhead electric line equipment.

During that rebuilding, from May to November 1980, the bridge was open to (signalled) motor traffic, whilst pedestrian/cycle access was maintained on a temporary bridge, adjacent to the north. [Source: Capturing Cambridge – Mill Road Bridge]

The bridge from Great Eastern Street looking towards Petersfield. Courtesy of John Hullock and the Suzy Oakes Collection.

The concerns of traders were raised. All of Mill Road’s independent traders have considerable custom arriving by foot and cycle, however some sell £100s of their speciality goods to customers using motor vehicles.

The point was made that ‘This is Mill Road, Cambridge’ – we’re all only a couple of degrees of separation from somebody with engineering expertise. If Mill Road bridge is to be closed to motor traffic – disrupting all deliveries and some trade to shops, and severing our bus service – GTR and Spencer Group will need to show us precisely why the bridge cannot be kept open through the works, in a way that can be closely scrutinised by those in the community with the relevant skills. Otherwise Mill Roaders will assume that the wool is being pulled over our eyes.

Things do appear to have moved on since the meeting on Thursday 1st November, in – ahem – Mill Lane.

Time of the Works

GTR are now looking to do the works later in the year July/August 2019, taking account of the feeling amongst traders that this would have less effect on trade than May/June. Local parents pointed out that July/August would be less disruptive to parents/pupils of (particularly) St Mathew’s and St Philip’s primary schools, and to pupils/staff of Cambridge Academic Partnership – responsible for secondary schools at Parkside, Coleridge and Trumpington. Our understanding is that GTR promised to consult local schools and to take account of school term/holiday dates.

Foot and cycle access

In the leaflet (reproduced above) GTR say, “We are looking to provide planned periods of pedestrian access throughout the period,” which implies a lack of commitment to continuous pedestrian access and makes no mention of cycle access.

Our understanding is that GTR and Spencer Group are currently planning the design and installation of a pedestrian bridge. It is not clear, at this stage, if cyclists will need to dismount. It appears to be the case that such a bridge will be open through any closure of the bridge to motor-traffic, save for short periods where it cannot remain open for reasons of engineering and public safety.

Public Realm Enhancements

Cambridge Cycling Campaign would like to see temporary enhancements to the public realm, during any closure to motor-traffic. In particular, hiring and installing pre-assembled ‘parklets’. See their vision for Mill Road with no through-traffic. Our understanding is that GTR will be meeting with Cambridge Cycling Campaign to discuss there ideas and their concerns.

Bus services

Mill Road Bridges Treasurer, Richard Wood, joined with Cambridge Area Bus Users Secretary, Richard Wood, in stressing the importance of providing substitute bus links in the event of closure of Mill Road bridge to motor-traffic. We were assured that GTR are in discussions with Stagecoach East over providing a substitute service. Our understanding is that any proposed timetable will be open to public consultation.

The usual diversionary route for citi2, when Mill Road is closed (eg for Mill Road Winter Fair) is via East Road, Newmarket Road , Coldhams Lane and Brooks Road, resuming its normal route to Addenbrooke’s Hospital via Perne Road and Birdwood Road.

Below are personal suggestions, please add your own comments, below the line.

On the Petersfield side, a previous bridge closure has seen a link bus service routed city centre – Mill Road – Tenison Road – St Barnabas Road and return, with Gwydir Street inbound and outbound stops suspended. With the bridge closed, a temporary stop on Mill Road outside St Barnabas Church (city-bound) would be feasible.

Both Tenison Road and St Barnabas Road are, technically, wide enough to take any standard HGV or bus, although a smaller vehicle (eg Optare Solo) might be more manageable. Because of congestion in Emmanuel Street, it is a moot point whether such a service should terminate in the city centre, or continue on the remainder of the route to Cambridge North Station via Chesterton.

On the Romsey side of Mill Road a Hope Street – Argyle Street – Cockburn Street loop might be possible. Again, a smaller bus might be advisable, and some parking suspensions might be required in those side streets. Mill Road Broadway inbound and outbound stops would need to be suspended and replaced with a temporary stop outside Mill Road Tesco.

A 20-min frequency Romsey Town – Perne Road – Birdwood Road – Addenbrooke’s, service would match the existing service to Addenbrooke’s. This might be supplemented with a 20-min frequency Romsey Town – Brooks Road Sainsbury’s – Coldhams Lane – Newmarket Road  – East Road – city centre – Chesterton – Cambridge North Station.

The schedule might be completed with a  a 20-min frequency Addenbrooke’s – Birdwood Road – Brooks Road Sainsbury’s- Coldhams Lane – city centre – Chesterton – Cambridge North service.

For updates from GTR, register on the Thameslink Programme website, or you can raise issues directly with GTR at

The timing of the meeting had been controversial with Mill Road’s traders, as it was in the week leading up to Mill Road Winter Fair on Saturday 1st December 2018 – probably the worst time for Mill Road’s Traders.

On 9 Nov 2018, Diane Rowe wrote to Piero d’Angelico of Mill Road Traders:

Dear Piero,

I hope you are well.

We have managed to secure a room at the Beaconsfield Arms on the 27th November. Many apologies – I know you said it was too close to the Christmas Fair but the room had been sourced and it was the only day that everyone could do. It will be in the form of a drop-in from 13:00 through until 20:00, which hopefully will mean people will be able to pop in at a time convenient to them.

I wonder if you have a list of the members of the traders association? We will try as much as possible spend local and it would be useful to know who the local suppliers are and who to contact.

Many thanks,

Diane Rowe
Customer Relationship Manager
Spencer Group
One Humber Quays
Wellington Street West

Shapour Meftah replied:

Dear Diane,

Thank you for your email which was sent to Piero, I am very glad that we are working on some sort of solution. As you may not be aware, we are at this moment in time in the run up to preparations for the Mill Road Winter Fair which is a very important event on our annual calendar and for our local community.  As discussed on previous occasions the date initially suggested of the 21/22 of November was suitable but that has now been changed by you and after discussing this with a number of traders the suggested date of the 27th by you is not convenient for the traders, we would prefer to postpone the meeting until after the Mill Road Winter Fair and if possible at a more appropriate venue.

I’d like to suggest either St. Barnabas Church or The Salvation Army on Mill Road as an alternative venue.

Whilst we accept that you have the right to hold the meeting whenever you want,  we would rather you don’t include the traders in the programme or literature of the drop-in session.

Kind Regards,

Shapour Meftah
Chair of Mill Road Traders’ Association

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CamCycle’s drop-in public consultations about a vision for Mill Road

Monday November 26 from 4-7pm at St Barnabas Church
Tuesday December 4 from 4-7pm at St Philips Church

Liz Irvin, Camcycle Volunteer, writes…

Dear Mill Road Bridges,
I’m a CamCycle volunteer helping out with our Mill Road campaign.
I am pleased to see that you have published Martin Lucas-Smith’s article about our vision for Mill Road with no through-traffic, which would allow more room for pedestrians, cyclists and delivery vans, reduce congestion, improve air quality and make the street a more pleasant destination. We think the closure of the bridge next summer is a great opportunity to trial elements of our vision. We would love the Mill Road community’s input, and would appreciate Mill Road Bridges being involved in this process.
We are holding two drop-in public consultations over the coming weeks to gather the views of residents, traders and visitors to Mill Road.
Kind regards,
Liz Irvin
Camcycle Volunteer
We say:
It would be great if these two events were to attract a large attendance by a lively crowd to further the debate.
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Objection to Planning application 18/1372/CAP18

As Friday 2 November 2018 appears to be the deadline for submission of objections to the Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail planning application, our treasurer submitted an objection Mill Road bridge works 18:1372:CAP18 objection (PDF 49 KB) asking that conditions be imposed on the applicants to ensure maximum access from the Romsey ward to the east of the railway bridge to the Petersfield ward to the west at the bridge location. Easy access for pedestrians and cyclists is the most essential for the viability of the independent traders for which Mill Road, Cambridge, is justifiably famous, and of which the community is justifiably proud. The greatest volume of sales from Mill Road’s shops is to customers who arrive on foot or by pedal-cycle.

Public meeting at the Double Tree Hilton at 6pm on 1 November

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Network Rail and its contractors hosted a public meeting at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Granta Place, Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RT at 6pm on Thursday 1 November 2018 to discuss the proposed eight-week closure of Mill Road bridge in Cambridge from May 2019.

Why it was not held at a venue on Mill Road we do not know. Was it to make things difficult? Or did no-one at GTR realise that Mill Lane and Mill Road are not adjacent locations?

The meeting was announced in Rail Business Daily, on-line.

We are indebted to Cllr Dave Baigent, City Councillor for Romsey, to alerting the Mill Road community to this meeting, on Twitter.

Our treasurer raised his frustrations at the poor responses from Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway to our request (see below) to be kept informed. Whilst Network Rail did contact him, he had no response from Govia Thameslink Railway.

Neither they nor Network Rail informed him of this meeting.

Will the bridge remain open for pedestrians and cyclists? What linking bus services can be provided along the two sections of Mill Road? What will be the impact on Mill Road’s independent traders?

From Cambridgeshire Live (Image: David Johnson)

From Cambridgeshire Live:

The bridge will have to close for two months to allow work to expand the railway below, which will require modification of one of the bridge’s arches.

The work will allow an additional railway line to run beneath the bridge, but will make the bridge unsafe for traffic while this is taking place.

A GTR spokesperson said: “We are planning a £30 million extension of the Cambridge railway depot to help increase the number of Thameslink services to and from the City.

Read the full report here.

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We have contacted Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway asking to be included in all consultations.

The text submitted on the various web contact forms is as follows:

We understand that Mill Road bridge in Cambridge is scheduled to be closed to all motor traffic from May to July 2019, in connection with installing an additional rail line beneath the bridge for access to an expanded maintenance depot for GTR trains.

Please ensure that our community organisation – Mill Road Bridges – is included in all consultations. Our main concern is that the bridge will remain open for pedestrians and cyclists between the two sections of Mill Road in Petersfield ward to the west of the railway and in Romsey ward to the east.

Failure to ensure pedestrian and cycle access at all times will impact severely on the independent traders for which Mill Road, Cambridge is justifiably famous, and of which the community is justifiably proud.

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Throughout the closure, we would like to see the Greater Cambridge Partnership fund impact studies:

  • Traffic counts on other routes to the city centre and Grafton Quarter to measure the actual (rather than projected) traffic displacement
  • Surveys of traders on the impact on their takings and on deliveries
  • Surveys of pedestrians, cyclists, bus users and local residents using Mill Road on how their journeys have been affected

This will be essential data for planning a positive outcome for more permanent traffic reduction along Mill Road, a reduction of congestion, an improvement in air quality on the Mill Road corridor, safer cycling, amore pedestrian-friendly environment, bus service reliability, whilst minimising disruption to traders and residents.

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Add your own comments (pre-moderated) below. Or below the A traffic-free Mill Road? post.

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paul weaver
paul weaver
9 August 2019 11:44

Mill Road Bridge Closure and Gas Works
Mill Road Summer have promoted events all over social media, and some of these groups/people that have organised these events don’t even live in Romsey or have businesses their. Thus taking advantage of the free publicity and giving out there own business details which will take the people from Mill Road out of Romsey town.
When putting together details to promote my own business, Mill Road Summer have said they cannot promote individual traders! yet they have videos on their website/ facebook pages of local traders talking about their own businesses.
They say they do not promote individual traders yet in all their promotions on social media they state – Romsey Parklet – outside Limocello! is that not promoting an individual trader???
I appreciate that these are run by volunteers but surely they should be helping the local traders as much as they can, especially when the closure and gas works has had a very negative impact on local traders.

Susan Jourdain
Susan Jourdain
16 July 2019 16:30

To Stuart Re: widening
3 groups asked for the bridge approach up from Argyle St to be widened by a footpath outside the wall.
We got no help from the Councils even though Campaign for Better Transport have been asking for this air pollution reduction measure for 3 years. Smarter Cambridge even offered to organise some money for this and there are no problems of land purchase Network Rail refused to think about doing the work at the same time – even just as far as their boundary.
It is now too late and we will have another 50 years of buses crawling up hill behind a bicycle or 3. The other approach is impossible for several reasons.

17 June 2019 19:51

The southbound (2B) route will go via Stockwell St and Argyle St, thus avoiding the barrier at Charles Street

3 June 2019 08:07

I have been attempting to find out what roads the officially signed diversions will use but so far without any luck. I have found much of interest on public transport, cycle and pedestrian routes but nothing on vehicular traffic. Where can I look for this information?

Lulu Agate
Lulu Agate
11 January 2019 13:52

I’ve not been able to go to any of the meetings about the proposed closure. This isn’t a complaint by the way, I was simply not available. I’ve been pleased to hear that there will be a separate bridge available for pedestrians and cyclists to use during the closure. Is this correct please? If it is, I’d like there to be a seat in the middle like there is on the wider paved side of the bridge as this is of great help for those of us needing a rest whilst walking across it.

Stuart Moore
Stuart Moore
22 November 2018 08:24

I got the leaflet today – the first I’d heard of the closure.

I agree they need to find ways to maintain pedestrian access over the railway.

I also wonder if this opportunity could be taken to make the bridge more cycle friendly – widening it and making a cycle lane, or having a separate cycle bridge like on Coldhams Lane. Slow cyclists on the bridge, and impatient cars following them, is stressful on both sides, and I’m willing to believe a significant cause of Mill Road traffic

Steve Gibson
Steve Gibson
18 November 2018 11:57

The railway bridge ‘closure’ provides Mill Rd with a once-in-at-least-one-generation opportunity to ‘trial a change’. The temporary change must be big enough to tell us something, but not so big to be unrealistic to continue with in some form, and we collect the right data to have a debate about what next, not a debate about the data.

If we identify and roughly rank the Mill Rd transport problems, through-traffic, that adds nothing to local business and isn’t residents, would seem to be is the highest priority to ‘see what we can do about it’. The bridge closure gives us that opportunity, but it must be supported by a properly designed study that starts by deciding what questions it wants to answer (e.g. where is motor traffic displaced to, how much traffic evaporation takes place, how does foot and bike use change, what happens to air quality, trader figures), and then collects data to answer those questions (so not collect data then see what it tells you!). With motor vehicles not being able to cross the bridge, there will be some change to resident behaviour car-borne, again we need to know how much and need to design that in. We could go further, and by using plate recognition, build up data that told us how much residents, delivery, incoming visitors, are moving about at different times. That could then be used to answer questions about the effect of evening ‘street scene’ speed limit changes or temporary rerouting, delivery time restrictions or even bigger delivery windows.

Of course the severing of a bus route is problematic; it is a change that is too extreme to suggest that it would remain after reopening. The answer is to run something as close to a replacement as possible (perhaps minibuses from Perne Rd to the foot of the bridge and from the Petersfield foot to the other end, with an electric shuttle cart crossing the temporary bridge – I would hazard that even that complexity is no slower than the bus most of the daytime.

After that, the data need to be publicly available (but anonymous of course), the analysis and presentation needs to be open and peer-reviewed.

In summary then, we need to design the data collection with our questions in mind, we need to put in temporary solutions to the things that wouldn’t form part of any proportionate plan in the future, and we need an open process where we can play around with the data and ask “what if”.

Finally, ‘evidence’. I realise that the traders association is concerned about a drop in revenue. My profession is not this kind of thing, although it is in evidence for decision-making that has similar challenges, but I lived in Whittlesey 25 years ago when something similar on a much smaller scale was proposed for the high-street, and it was the case then that all the properly conducted and peer-reviewed studies showed that when motor traffic was reduced and other transport forms increased, revenue went up. That to me right now seems an easy win – get a research group to provide the evidence – to review all the papers if they haven’t already, and tell us what the evidence says. Then design the Mill Rd Bridge Closure experiment, in the same way.

I’m not an advocate of any outcome, but I do know that the peer-reviewed evidence on the effects of air quality and noise on human health are compelling enough to warrant a significant investment in getting the data we all need to make an informed community decision from this once-in a generation opportunity. I realise that many will be badly burnt from the last data-to-solution exercise; I am proposing something different – decide what questions we want to answer, not what solutions we envisage, then collect data to answer the questions, be they ones about traffic or air quality or trader figures or perceptions. Then let’s play around and see what it can tell us and we can avoid any of us promoting a solution without fully understanding its impacts.

Dave Baigent
Dave Baigent
Reply to  Steve Gibson
18 November 2018 14:08

In reply to Steve Gibson.

This seems like a good idea. Once we are able to sit down and talk with TGTL to find out more detail of what is happening in response to the earlier meeting and negotiate the best outcome, then we can look at what can be organised in the way of research.
You seem pretty switched on in these matters so perhaps you would like to lead a group working on this? What do you think?
Dave Baigent. Romsey City Councillor. 08802495329

Lulu Agate
Lulu Agate
10 November 2018 00:08

I’m sadly not surprised but am disappointed to read all about the needs of cyclists and pedestrians yet see no mention of people with disabilities or other vulnerabilities in either the proposal or the response from the Mill Road group.

Those of us who rely on the bus service up and down Mill Road (despite the expensive tickets), are unable to cycle and cannot walk for long or very far will now be faced with the prospect of paying for taxis which are even more costly or of staying at home.

Paul Weaver
Paul Weaver
9 November 2018 15:13

This will have a huge impact on the independent Mill Road traders. I would hope they can at least offer a pedestrian and cycle temporary bridge? Will we be informed of compensation for loss of takings while this is taking place?

Romsey Barbers Ltd
Thoday Street
Reply to  Paul Weaver
18 November 2018 14:12

In reply to Paul Weaver.

That is far from true. City Councillors are concerned about everyone. We are still trying to get a meeting with them.

13 October 2018 11:01

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