By Francis, a Petersfield resident
All agree that traffic fumes are detrimental to the health and wellbeing of human beings. We residents of Mill Road have found that our health has been impacted by increasing levels of pollution in recent years but it has improved as the volume of traffic was reduced in lockdown. Many Mill Road shops have had their stock rooms converted into flats which means they cannot keep as much stock on their premises as they formerly did and the need for frequent deliveries becomes important – in some cases the decision to convert was made by traders and not landlords. In other cases traders have had to cope with the ill judgement of landlords.
Our traders are important to our road. We value them and they should welcome measures which benefit their resident neighbours and customers. They should support safe, non-polluted, traffic-free pavements. Excellent bus services and bridge-access rights to those who genuinely need access; Blue-badge holders for example and traders whose warehouses are over the bridge; possibly taxis.
For the good of our community let us say ‘No to accidents caused by vehicles mounting pavements. No to poisonous air. No to heavy-plant and transport-lorries using Mill Road as a rat-run between Bedford and Suffolk’.
Yes to deliveries for local traders, Yes to cleaner air, Yes to local shops for locals, Yes to the right to walk (or use one’s wheel-chair) on the pavement without fear of being knocked down. Yes to parking bays.
If these are your priorities you need to make your voice heard.
Web editor adds:
If you are a Mill Road area resident, a regular user of Mill Road’s shops, a trader, someone who delivers to shops, a taxi/hire car driver…
Whatever your view, do make it known.
Depending who you listen to, this scheme:
- has made it safer to cycle to local shops and for pupils heading to and from local schools ;
- will wreck Mill Road’s businesses;
- has improved air quality, and made the road safer;
- has generated more traffic and longer journeys avoiding the bridge;
- will help create a much improved ambience to Mill Road, giving a much-needed boost to local businesses.
You can participate in the Mill Road Consultation, online, through clicking this link.
If you, or someone you know, would like a paper copy of the Cambridgeshire County Council consultation document telephone 0345 0455212 to have paper copies posted to you.
Survey participants often complain that the questions asked do not enable them to fully express their views. If you feel that way, you could set your views out clearly in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, for those without an internet connection or email account, you can communicate in the traditional way, by writing to:
Policy and Regulation Team
Mark your letter “Mill Road railway bridge ETRO consultation.”
See also our earlier post National Pavement Parking Ban?
I swore I wouldn’t get involved in any online debating on this because I find it so bonkers how truly awful some people can be on the likes of Twitter and Nextdoor. Aside from the road being shut, I really feel this has brought out the very worst in people, the bizarre quest to be the most community-minded whilst slating anyone who disagrees is so peculiar.
For me, the actual closure is swings and roundabouts. I walk mostly, it’s nicer to do so without walking by a traffic jam. Having said that I also do drive and it takes marginally longer to do so, I don’t drive at rush hour so I don’t doubt traffic is bad but then again Cambridge is awful to drive in mostly anyway.
I have some experience of these issues from a previous job and I honestly cannot believe how badly the campaign to reopen the bridge has been run. They may well succeed given the current level of debate in this country but the bitter debates, and name calling is ridiculous. I entirely understand that some traders are fuming and enjoy the rage shared by some “rent a mob” elements but in tying themselves up with these people they’ve alienated many normal folk. If they’d fought it on the grounds of reducing traffic elsewhere or even just the convenience of driving and obviously the disabled issue they would have won people over. Instead they’ve dug in, called those that disagree ‘fascist’ and ‘Nazi’* (strong words given recent events on the national political scene), and generally come across as negative bullies.
Some retailers seem to be thriving, one I won’t name said last week he is struggling to keep up with demand and worried the queue outside is dangerous re. Corona. Another said he’s too busy to care about a road being shut, some wisdom there methinks. I asked the Mill Road Traders’ Association what they’re doing to help share ideas and prepare for a post corona world – getting sheet signs printed to stick on a derelict building it seems… The only question is, if the traffic does flow again, who will be to blame then? I’m afraid lots of goodwill will have evaporated by then and the traders may find their most vocal “supporters” are quite happy once they can hop in their car and drive quickly to town again.
On a not-entirely-facetious note, wouldn’t if be great to have some children’s swings and roundabouts somewhere along Mill Road? Maybe adjacent to a few of the excellent cafés which could benefit from extra sales of ice-cream, cold drinks, tea, coffee… ??☕️ depending upon the weather. ?
I’d be interested in your thoughts on the big list of positive ideas I posted almost 6 months ago now.
These are all things I would expect a trade association to consider taking up, to entice people out of their houses safely in a time of pandemic. Sadly they have not been progressed.
Lots of people I’m certain would have been happy to help promote the street in these ways, and still would be.
I agree all your suggestions sound great and exactly what should be done. The issue would be that the shopowners can tart up their own shops but I doubt have the money or inclination to do anything with the rest of the street. Stopping the vans parking in front of their doors would be a good step too.
This should be the responsibility for the council as it is in town, to make the whole street better. It’s complicated further by the fact the shops all have different owners.
Many of the London districts Mill Road is compared to are owned by one owner so there is someone with oversight who has it in their interests to improve things. For me the Traders’ Association has failed to do what it aims to. Why is it not helping the traders share knowledge, improve corona operations and lobbying the council for support and improvement of the road? I see they are in the paper again moaning about the survey being corrupt (it is open to manipulation), but how much more powerful to be calling on the council to improve the road, or publicising the road in a non advertorial?
As an aside I was speaking to my in-laws today (long time Cambridge residents so maybe that counts for more here ?) but they live across town and cycle here regularly. They do not care if the road is pedestrianised but they voluntarily said they have visited the shops more spending money in the process and the new shops are what’s encourages them so at least some of the shops are getting money in the till.
My husband, Francis Clegg and I (Sue Keable) passionately want the bridge to re-open. Its closing has been a crazy idea (and I normally agree with Dave Baigent on most things but this is not one of them). I am registered disabled and cannot get over the bridge, and Francis was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and is sometimes too unwell to walk to his GP in Petersfield from our home on Catharine Street – the taxi journey means he needs to go a very long and costly way round. Also we have three cats and our vet is on Clarendon Street – we are unable to get the cats to the vet, so he has to visit them here, which is inconvenient and costly.
Please may this madness end and let us have the bridge open again.
Thanks, Pamela, for enabling someone without internet access, to post their views.
Why are you permitting anonymous posts? Full name please.
There are a variety of reasons why people would like to withhold their full name, including:
Anyone with a valid email address may submit an article or blogpost for consideration. Similarly comments may be submitted by anyone.
Any that contain abuse, make unjustified allegations about any individual, or use impolite language (eg “these idiots who…”) will be rejected, deleted, or – our preferred approach – partially redacted, to remove unacceptable remarks whist allowing people to express their point of view.
Where is the proof for this?
I don’t believe this should be included unless you have proof/facts of this? Please remove this part of the blog.
The blogpost, sent to us by a local resident, is as it is, but you make a fair point, Paul.
Would those rooms above the shops have been stockrooms, in years gone by? Would they, after being converted from purely residential houses, been accommodation for proprietors who, literally, ‘lived over the shop’.
As in this photo, of Doreen’s [Courtesy of the Suzy Oakes Collection]
Arjuna’s first-floor rooms are used for stock, preparation and packing (amongst other things). Raj’s former shop, now Sainsbury’s, has flats above, but a huge basement storeroom.
64 Mill Road has retail on the bottom (my shop) and the real lease (held by another person) includes a flat above which used to be, and perhaps still is, intended for use by the trader. It was like that when it used to be the Brazilian place. In any case it has become a residential flat and adjudged so by CCC *.
If you really care about your community, you should vote AGAINST the Bridge restrictions. The current bridge restrictions are having a detrimental effect on Mill Road Traders, residents and shoppers. Mill Road may have less pollution now, but the surrounding streets now have MUCH more pollution, is this fair to the surrounding residents and their children? NO
The last minute council survey is unfair and should NOT be used. It is open to one person to complete the survey 200 times, with no names/ details given.
The reasons you should vote for the bridge restrictions to be REMOVED;
Email your concerns regarding the bridge restriction to email@example.com.
DO NOT USE THE COUNTY COUNCIL’S SURVEY
Many claims in that posting are not supported by evidence.
Mill Road is also a residential road with properties much closer to the road than other surrounding roads, meaning higher exposure on Mill Road. Why is this always ignored in statements like the above – do those residents have a right not to have pollution also?
Very large numbers of people walking on the pavements, literally 50cm next to exhaust pipes. Do they have a right not to breathe that in and become more susceptible to asthma?
The only way to deal with pollution, as anyone who genuinely cares about that knows, is to promote traffic reduction, and the proven ways to do that are (1) removing through-traffic in areas of very high pedestrian and residential density, and (2) area-wide measures to deal with traffic on wide roads such as creation of residents’ parking and low emission zone charging.
With that space from queuing traffic freed up, traders could then be asking for new car parking so that people can visit the shops more easily and not block the pavements.
It’s fairly easy to detect repeat submissions from the same computer in technical terms.
I see that various Twitter accounts like Romsey Barbers are promoting the survey.
Note that a consultation isn’t a vote. Changes have to take in a mixture of: public views, government policy and, very importantly, local policy such as the Local Plan.
Yet other journeys are now also quicker.
Buses are no longer stuck in traffic, and there is significant scope to add more buses now that it offers a significant advantage over the car.
Accessing the street and the side roads by taxi is now often quicker for the same reason – there is not traffic to sit in, racking up the meter cost.
Getting to the shops on Mill Road is now significantly quicker by bicycle, as before the heavy traffic meant being stuck on it.
Evidence from around the country is that people’s journeys change over time, as new circumstances take effect. Journeys that used to have to be done by car now become possible by other means.
In terms of a through route, Mill Road is now a viable route for using the bus (being stuck in traffic meant no advantage over driving), cycling (it has been a major collision blackspot but is now safer) and can be walked along more easily now (no excuse for illegal pavement parking, and pollution reduction means better for those with breathing difficulties). These also apply to actually accessing the street, which is course is a large percentage of uses.
Mill Road’s primary use ought to be accessing the shops and residences, not simply driving through.
I think it’s interesting that some people have asked why cyclists can’t use “their” bridge (actually it’s for walking too). This amounts to a claim that people cycling should have to deal with a diversion but those who drive shouldn’t have to use a diversion using their other two alternative routes. Moreover, people cycling want to go on Mill Road because that’s actually a destination for many journeys – as traders of course should actually want.
There is 24/7 access to every shop and every residence on Mill Road.
Why are traders not following the cycling campaign’s call to add NEW disabled car parking spaces (and indeed general car parking spaces and new delivery spaces) along the street itself and at every sideroad?
A street with the large number of collisions that was happening before is actively creating new disabilities. Why is that not also a problem?
The core scheme camera-enforced filter points – like on Silver Street, I understand – have some kind of disabled exemption access, so it is presumably legally possible for Mill Road.
Car parking for anyone on much of Mill Road was difficult before, something that everyone has been saying for ages. If traders are saying that suddenly trade from that has massively dropped solely because of driver-based stopping, that implies that they have been relying on illegal parking on pavements.
A claim not supported by evidence.
The only reported incident so far in the 6 months of the trial has been on the corner with Tenison Road. Notably, that section, unlike the other parts of the street, is the one bit that has no buildouts and still has through-traffic.
Mill Road has had a very high incidence rate of collisions, as can be seen in the evidence (see DfT data on both Crashmap and Bikedata)
Those against the closure of the bridge to through traffic (and its opening up for walking and cycling therefore) have still not yet given any proposal on how they would solve that collision problem. Through traffic on a narrow street is fundamentally incompatible with a safe environment for walking and cycling.
If you genuinely care about safety for those walking and cycling, as you presumably do, just point to an existing published set of ideas how you would resolve those.
I would totally agree the barriers are ugly though – they need to be replaced by planters in the way that many other cities have done.
Why is it that cars taking up the same space is not a problem, but static (and therefore more predictable) buildouts are?
The logic of this argument is complete pedestrianisation, which would not be practical and which no-one has been proposing.
The presence of a bridge full of traffic and common close passing was previously a significant barrier for many people.
I for one have found myself going to Romsey shops much more often now, and I know others who have found the same.
Communities are connected by having safe routes between them, not by having traffic thundering through them. There are now significant new opportunities, like having a high-frequency bus service along the street, not possible with vast amounts of traffic.
I have no doubt that many people who run businesses up and down the country have been suffering because of COVID this summer. The pandemic has caused major difficulties for almost everyone, whether financially, in mental health, losing loved ones and so on. Everyone (myself included) has faced problems in these areas. Some places around the country have found ways to adapt their business model, e.g. offering deliveries.
Many of us have been going out of our way to get out of our houses and shop/eat on Mill Road in the middle of a pandemic where the government has mostly been telling us to stay at home.
What is also happening is an ongoing shift to online purchases, increased by the pandemic, with the major supermarkets unfortunately getting the most benefits of this. (I speak as someone who basically gave up 6 months of my life to try to stop Tesco moving in to Mill Road, but unfortunately big business got its way, albeit with an obviously unprofitable store.) All shops, local traders included, need to adapt to this changing situation.
6 months ago I posed a massive set of ideas, here in a comment on Mill Road Bridges’ Wider footways, barriers and bridge restrictions blogpost.
These are all things that a really forward-looking traders’ business association would be trying to take up, working with the community to try to put in place, and which would have seen more people come to the street. Many of us would like to spend our time volunteering to improve the street, but such goodwill has been rebuffed.
Instead, a small number of traders have instead alienated a significant proportion of their customers by loudly complaining about the removal of through-traffic, going so far as to add (frankly bizarre) posters like “Stay safe on the bridge, come by car”, and spending huge amounts of energy on petitions and a poorly-attended protest, rather than asking, “How can we make the street nicer and thereby draw the local residents in?”
For instance, there was clear demand for outdoor seating at cafés over the summer. The government made it easier to apply for this by removing some of the bureacracy. There was plenty of space on Mill Road within the street to do this. Why did traders not take up this opportunity?
Several times I turned up on a sunny Sunday afternoon for a late lunch, and found most places were closed, and those where I could have gone had no outdoor seating left. During the week, I found places open early in the day with few customers, but then closed in the evening just as everyone was desperate to meet somewhere outside after being stuck working at home all day.
Maurizio’s did find a small spot on the other side of the street (which I and friends enjoyed myself) and clearly benefitted from that. Limoncello had their best ever period of trading during the parklet last year. Residents and visitors clearly would welcome this kind of thing, but businesses need to adapt to respond to this demand rather than seemingly saying that nothing should ever change.
Another example is parking. Why is it that the traders’ association have not called for more car parking and removal of delivery restrictions, and yet by contrast the cycling campaign has been openly calling for it. Why not get together and make a joint approach to complain to the county council that this is needed?
The government’s guidance is quite clear: local authorities are expected “to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel.” This was announced on national TV in May.
The bridge change is both to facilitate social distancing as well as encourage walking and cycling, as the council’s statement of reasons shows. That is doing exactly what the government has asked it to do.
On distancing specifically (which is still mandated) – this is completely impossible on Mill Road’s narrow pavements if you have cars moving 20cm from you. I have seen people numerous times stepping into the roadway, which would be impossible with the kind of traffic density that existed before.
There is now multiple clear policy from the various councils in Cambridge about the need to reduce traffic. Mill Road is no exception to this. The traffic problem has been complained about for the decades I’ve lived in this area. Last year’s meeting which was well-attended by traders saw hundreds of people present with literally only three people putting their hand up to say there should be no change. There’s been a year since, plenty of time to draw up ideas.
The recent change to the bridge was initiated because of the government’s Covid instructions, but this direction of travel is clearly backed by the Greater Cambridge Local Plan which has come into place recently, and which had vast amounts of consultation. Policy 24 for Mill Road clearly states:
which is text approved by the government’s national inspector.
This implies that people felt safe before when there was vast amounts of traffic, which is clearly not true. There have been constant complains by the public on traffic dangers, pavement parking, and so on.
On this note, It is extremely disappointing to see a small number of traders recently condone illegal pavement parking. Again, if there is genuine concern about pedestrian safety and disabled access, those traders should make clear statements that pavement parking is never acceptable, in the same way that the cycling campaign has clear policy on its website that cycling on the pavement (covered by exactly the same law, the Highways Act 1835) is unacceptable.
Excusing pavement parking massively undermines claims about disabled access over the bridge. The solution is proper delivery bays, which the cycling campaign has specifically proposed – traders should enthusiastically support this and could have had 6 months of them by now had they also pushed for this. Personally I would also like to see removal of delivery time restrictions – it is stupid to have parking wardens preventing the butchers taking deliveries at any time, given there is now space.
Which exactly? Where is the recognition in this claim that COVID has reduced movement of all kinds and that this means that business models need to adapt?
I note that there have also been four places newly opening, despite being in the middle of a major pandemic. The opening of new businesses tends not to indicate a dying street.
I and everyone else want a thriving street. That absolutely can be achieved by having a street without through-traffic. Now that the traffic is no longer passing through, there is space to do all kinds of things, if there is the willingness to do them, e.g. outdoor dining, new parking, etc.
I do not think mill-road.com should allow users to add business details to these blogs, but I guess this site is not as partial as they make themselves out to be.
As for the rest of this, my time is too valuable to read made up information and no evidence to support.
Two questions, Paul.