Mill Road – The Future

Is the Mill Road community an undifferentiated block, who agree on everything? Far from it. That’s why we adopted (borrowed) the phrase Community of Communities. Gather half-a-dozen Mill Roaders in a meeting and you’ll generate a score of differing opinions.

We are pleased to see the establishment of a new website and group trying to create a positive vision for the future of Mill Road.

Mill Road – A Street for People is a group of Cambridge residents working on a non-partisan basis to seek consensus to get the best Mill Road for everyone.

Note Mill Road – A Street for People is not controlled by, nor aligned to Mill Road Bridges. We exist to foster debate about Mill Road and will draw attention to all websites, protests, opinion surveys and events concerning Mill Road which come to our attention, on whatever ‘side’ of any ‘argument’ they stand.

Photo of cyclist crossing Mill Road Bridge

It is a site which hosts a variety of (sometimes overlapping, sometimes conflicting) ideas.

This post is open to (polite) comments, and so is Mill Road – A Street for People.

There are endless discussions on Nextdoor, Facebook and Twitter, but not everyone has (or wants) an account on those social media. This site is open to all, as is Mill Road – A Street for People.

And what of the future?

Since June 2020 there have been restrictions on what traffic can lawfully use Mill Road Bridge – see Wider footways, barriers and bridge restrictions. Some claim that the restrictions are ‘killing’ Mill Road. Others point to the new businesses starting up in Mill Road as signs of change and growth. These include the Harvest Organic Supermarket, and the Eclipse Bakery on Romsey Broadway; whilst, on the Petersfield (city) side, Finn Boys Fish Butchery restaurant, a new Co-op, The Lads Piri-Piri, and another restaurant – Fancett’s – at 96A (Fabio’s former premises) have recently opened or are about to open.

Image street sign

Some want all restrictions on bridge traffic removed, to bring ‘passing trade’ back to Mill Road. Others insist that passing motor-traffic is just that. Passing. Not stopping. Not shopping. Would the return of the previous traffic congestion, air pollution and road traffic accidents be worth it for the alleged benefits to traders?

Can compromises be found?

Limited taxi access over the bridge? All taxis? Even the Wolverhampton-registered private hire vehicles operating in Cambridge?

Access for Blue Badge holders? Difficult as the Blue Badge is a parking permit, linked to an individual (driver or passenger) not a vehicle. But could a means be found?

Delivery vehicles to traders? Which ones? What times?

Some blame any drop in trade to the current restrictions on Mill Road Bridge, while others point out that Covid-related restrictions on shopping, eating out, and socialising have hit businesses across the city and the country.

Many have pointed out that it wasn’t traffic restrictions which led to the demise of the once mighty Cambridge and District Co-operative Society, nor to the failure of BHS, Debenhams, Top Shop, and many more; that every High Street, including Mill Road, has had changes of shops.

Doreen’s – The noted shop for coats – is long gone. As shopping preferences change, so do the shops.

Photo of former shop on Mill Road, Doreen's coats
Doreen’s – Courtesy of the Suzy Oakes Collection

To get a flavour of earlier discussions see the links at the foot of this post.

Let’s get the debate progressing.

This post is open to (polite) comments, and so is Mill Road – A Street for People.

And now for something completely different (but related)

Have you ever wondered why Mill Road has become the lucky host to Cambridge Central Mosque?

Could it be that, just as half-a-dozen Mill Roaders will generate a score of differing opinions. That’s exactly the same for Muslims?

Listen to Baroness Sayeeda Warsi on the subject of the ‘Muslim community’.

“You want to talk to me about Muslims, as if somehow they’re just one big monolithic block? You get two Muslims in a room you get six opinions.”

Sayeeda Warsi on Channel 4’s Stand Up and Deliver

If you haven’t seen the two programmes, they are well worth a watch, with (spoiler alert) Sayeeda Warsi a worthy winner, and Rev Richard Coles a commendable runner-up.

No wonder the Cambridge Central Mosque was built on Mill Road – an ideal place for a beautiful building and a continuing debate about the best future for the ‘Mill Road community’.

See also:

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Martin L-S
Martin L-S
11 July 2021 12:46

It is great that Paul Weaver notes that the “The ideas sound brilliant”. That is what Mill Road For People has aimed to do – work with residents to come up with ideas that form positive improvements to the street without the return of a high-traffic neighbourhood.

Mill Road For People sets out a positive vision of how the street can be improved. It is consultative, seeking ideas, and is encouraging ideas-based dialogue. Polite ideas (which do not make factually incorrect claims) have been posted – the comments section contains a range of comments, some in favour, and indeed some against.

The claims by Paul about who is involved are factually incorrect. Mill Road For People is made up of people from all the local political parties and none (the last meeting for instance had people from Conservative, Lib Dem, Labour and Greens, as well as people from no party at all of course). There are traders involved also. Names are given on the website. There have been street stalls, in which we have been talking to people, in plain daylight.

There is no reason that the ideas cannot become a reality, especially there is now a new Administration at the County Council.1

By contrast to all the above, the “Don’t Kill Mill Road” Facebook page2 continues to be anonymous, fails to acknowledge the horrendous safety record and pollution the street had, makes no attempt for compromise, fails to recognise that the high-traffic situation on Mill Road had poor disability access, sets out no positive ideas like more outdoor seating for cafés / disabled parking / removing delivery restrictions, posts screenshots about shop closures which don’t stand up to scrutiny because there is no evidence/lists provided, and makes claims that even a trivial Google search will prove are incorrect.

At least Paul Weaver will be against that DKMR webpage being anonymous, presumably.

Paul Weaver
Paul Weaver
18 June 2021 13:42

This group is just another front for Camcycle. It is very distasteful the way in which they are trying to fool the public and the County council just to get their own way.

One of the Members doesn’t live near Mill Road but is a trustee of Camcycle. The Chief Director of Camcycle is also the administrator of this group. It is very underhand and fools no one.

Their website, also their social media platforms, give no mention of who the members are. I wonder why? as they are all either Camcycle associates or paying labour members. Yet they state they are Non-partisan? They are kidding no one.

The ideas sound brilliant, but in reality it will not happen, BUT they will get to keep Mill Road bridge closed which is their ultimate aim.

Presumably, Paul is referring to the Mill Road – A Street for People group and website. The site does have an About Us page.

Both the Mill Road – A Street for People and this website are open for comments.

We certainly welcome all positive suggestions on how to make Mill Road the best street for living, for spending money with traders, for relaxing, for socialising.

Paul is pushing the limits of our boundaries here, but our inclination is to approve comments – with redactions if an abusive tone is used – and to seek a response to allegations which we can neither confirm nor refute.

– Mill Road Bridges web-editor

Paul Weaver
Paul Weaver
Reply to  Paul Weaver
18 June 2021 18:04

This is only my opinion, surely I am allowed an opinion?

Of course you are entitled to express your opinions, Paul.

Mill Road Bridges welcomes all manner of opinions, whether or not the individual people involved in the website and organisation agree/disagree with them. We’re here to foster debate.

Indeed, your comment was approved for posting on our website.

“Methinks the Paul doth protest too much.”

– Mill Road Bridges Web-editor

Reply to  Paul Weaver
20 June 2021 01:05

Unfortunately when you are up against [✂︎] people that form these kinds of groups, it takes you out of your comfort zone. I am not usually this vocal on anything, but when you can see what is happening and others don’t, my Romsey town experience comes out, ? and it makes me shout loud and far so all of Romsey can hear, I am glad they are hearing now and they are also making sounds.

Thank god for the people who has created Don’t Kill Mill Road, they have been brilliant! Too many times groups like MR4P who shout the loudest, get their way and then the residents complain after.

The correct way to deal with this is to now open the bridge as it was before the closure, remove the bollards, the Country is now open and social distancing will be in the past very soon.

Engage all residents, traders on and off Mill Road. Including all cambridge residents, all businesses in Cambridge because after all, Mill Road isn’t just for the residents of Romsey and Petersfield, this road serves or did, Cambridge/shire.

Have a complete open transparent discussion, none of this Camcycle, greater Cambridgeshire partner [sic], Greater Cambridge Partnership?] how this area should look. Start with a blank sheet and get the residents to decide. Not a couple of Camcycle members who probably live in the area, invite delivery drivers for their opinion, basically engage with everyone and then sort out the logistic.

It can be done honestly and with complete democracy. Not [✂︎] dividing a community.

This comment has been lightly edited to remove two allegations outwith our guidelines and to add hyperlinks to four organisations mentioned by Paul.
– Mill Road Bridges Web-Editor

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