That was the summer that was

Well what a summer it was, I have not experienced one like it in the two decades that I have lived on Mill Road.  Here is one resident’s view: 

Like other residents and most traders, I was irritated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) organising a meeting about Mill Road on the other side of town (Mill Lane). It made me doubt their map-reading abilities which led me to question whether their brief was to upgrade facilities in Cambridge, rather than Camberley, Camden or Camberwell.

I was also concerned that traders, many of whom are friends and all of whom feel like neighbours, would have difficulty receiving deliveries. The pharmacy receives new shipments of drugs every day and the idea that traffic could be banned from the road completely would not work well for our community. Naturally this was not what GTR had in mind and a complete ban did not happen.

In fact something else happened. Local authority monitoring shows that traffic volumes on the Petersfield side of the bridge did not decrease. An explanation is the volume of taxi traffic heading to the railway station via the Petersfield section of Mill Road, and Tenison Road.

Throw into the mix of normal traffic levels, the disruption caused by at least half the width of the road being cordoned off for gas works, two-way motor traffic having to squeeze into one narrow lane and heavy plant – diggers, cranes and excavators – taking up road space too; it is likely that some motorists in unfamiliar surroundings were disorientated and uncertain on how they were going to reach their destinations.

Road rage and impatience were manifest and cars were seen mounting pavements recklessly without due care and attention to pedestrians.  There were high levels of dust all day and night which caused me to lose my voice and feel breathless.

As if this wasn’t enough disruption, residents and fellow traders were devastated by the fire at Gee’s and worried that it might be connected to the gasworks.  We were left without hot water for 48 hours and then there was vandalism in the cemetery followed by the break-ins on the road.

 It was miserable but it is not a fair test of how a reduction in motor traffic (which did not happen in the Petersfield stretch) might affect traders’ turnover. Other factors were at work. We all need to disentangle this.  Nobody wants a traffic-free Mill Road but we all want a safe pedestrian environment which is, after all, good for trade.  

Charlotte de Blois

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