By CB & RW
In the real world the relationship between cause and effect can be difficult to trace but that is the task that Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Committee faced in deciding the future of Mill Road Bridge.
Nobody doubts that Mill Road Traders experienced hard times during the pandemic, but was their hardship the result of restricted access to Mill Road Bridge? Or could it have been part of a wider decline in trade, which caused huge retail giants such as John Lewis and others to teeter, with Debenhams, Top Shop and others vanishing from our High Streets and shopping centres?
The Highways and Transport Committee’s decision to reopen the bridge, which was passed by the acting Chair’s casting vote on Tuesday 27th July appears to endorse this correlation. A connection between poor respiratory health prior to lockdown and pollutants that exceed those levels considered acceptable by the WHO, was not endorsed by that majority of one.
This followed a noisy demonstration the previous Saturday, which highlighted the strongly-held opinions on both sides of this issue.
Cambridge Independent‘s Mike Scialom put it accurately – Mill Road bridge closure protest reveals divisions that will take time to heal. The article has embedded videos which show City Councillor for Romsey ward Dave Baigent, who supported the bridge restrictions – but as a city, rather than county councillor, had no vote on the implementation of the ETRO and has no vote on the future status of the bridge – being roundly abused by some of the demonstrators.
A Cambridge Independent report –Mill Road bridge in Cambridge set to reopen after single deciding vote – by Alex Spencer also includes photos and videos.
Over at Cambridge News, Christy O’Brien reports: Mill Road Bridge to reopen to traffic after controversial closure.
The positive aspect of this decision is that there will be a consultation on the experiences of residents and traders and the impacts that removing the restrictions on the bridge will have on health, collisions and an upturn in trade. These are trends that must be monitored.
Cambridge Independent‘s Gemma Gardner reports that work to reopen Mill Road bridge to all vehicles is set to begin on Tuesday 3rd August – Date set for work to reopen Mill Road bridge in Cambridge to all traffic. Whilst Cambridge News‘s Harry Gold advises Drivers warned Mill Road Bridge not yet open to cars.
Meanwhile, there is a question mark over whether the abrupt ending of the scheme could have financial implications for Cambridgeshire County Council’s future central government (DfT) funding for active transport schemes.
Funding for infrastructure upgrades, changes to The Highway Code and new requirements to ensure that active travel schemes’ effects are properly assessed.Department for Transport and The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
In a sign of the growing frustration within government at some councils, both Conservative and Labour, which have removed active travel schemes in the face of sometimes noisy objections, transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris is formally writing to the leaders of all English local authorities with transport responsibilities.Peter Walker Political correspondent, The Guardian
Read the full article: Hastily abandoned low-traffic schemes could cost councils funding
But how can we all help our much-loved restaurants, cafés, pubs and independent shops to thrive? Promotion would be a start.
This post is open to (polite) comments. Before commenting you might wish to read 10 views on the decision to reopen Mill Road bridge in Cambridge to all traffic, compiled by Cambridge Independent‘s editor Paul Brackley.