Food for Change

Maurizio is on the run!

… to raise funds for local community-based Cambridge Sustainable Food’s  food justice work across the city.

Cambridge Sustainable Food provide food justice work across the city. They work with residents, businesses, organisations and community groups to advocate for, and enable access to, healthy and sustainably produced food that is good for people and good for the planet.

Tackling food-related inequality is one of today’s most urgent challenges if we are to stem the rising tide of hunger, obesity and other diet-related ill-health such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Cambridge Sustainable Food convenes Cambridge Food Poverty Alliance, a multi-agency partnership which aims to reduce food poverty locally. Read more about this work here, the emergency food access here, and read/download the Covid-19 Emergency Food Response April 2020 – March 2021 (PDF) here.


Maurizio is on the run!

photo of Maurizio, running

Mill Road’s godfather of pizza and pasta is taking part in the Cambridge Half Marathon on Sunday 17th October 2021.

Maurizio Dining & Co. logo

You can help Maurizio raise funds for local community-based Cambridge Sustainable Food’s food justice work across the city and reach his £500 target by donating what you can via his GoFundMe page, here.


Eat for our Future Campaign

Food poverty is only one aspect of Cambridge Sustainable Food’s work. Food needs to be not only good for people and the planet, but also good for local economies, businesses and jobs.

As part of the newly launched Eat for our Future Campaign Cambridge Sustainable Food will be holding a variety of events across October to help Cambridge eat a Climate Diet, with in-person stalls where you can ask your questions and make a pledge, online events chaired by local sustainable food experts to guide you to a diet that is kinder to the planet, and running seminars for businesses to help them serve food for the future.

Read Cambridge Sustainable Food’s Eat for our Future: Climate Diet Campaign October Events bulletin here.

Full information about Cambridge Sustainable Food and their work can be found on their website.

Mill Road Bridge restrictions end – but what of the future?

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.

image as caption
Protest by people opposed to the experimental closure on Mill Road bridge
Picture: Keith Heppell (linked from the Cambridge Independent website)

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.

A live report of the meeting, from Camcycle can be found here on Thread Reader App here.

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.

£338 million package to further fuel active travel boom

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.

Gwydir St Car Park (car symbol)
For Mill Road’s great restaurants, cafés,
pubs, independent shops and much more
Could we have signage like this on Gonville Place?
Mill Road (cycle symbol, pedestrian symbol)
Great restaurants, cafés,
pubs, independent shops
and so much more
And signage like this on the Chisholm Trail, at the railway station, on Parker’s Piece and at the Collier Road exit of Anglia Ruskin University

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.

Mill Road Bridge bus gate opinion survey

Cambridge Labour Party have published a short survey to measure public opinions about the future of Mill Road.

view of Mill Road Bridge artwork
Image: Over Mill Road Bridge

Whilst Mill Road Bridges have no political affiliations, we would be wrong not to draw this survey to local residents’ attention. It is noteworthy that the Vice-Chair of the Cambridgeshire County Council Highways and Transportation Committee is now Councillor Gerri Bird (Labour, Chesterton Division). It would seem likely that Councillor Bird will have the results of the survey drawn to her attention.

Please fill it in – the result is likely to influence the way that Labour councillors vote in the Highways Committee on this issue.

Cambridge Labour

If, however, you would prefer to contact your local Cambridgeshire County Councillor directly their contact details may be found here:

This blogpost is also open for (polite) comments. We will contact Councillors Howitt and Shailer to ask that they monitor the post for comments, though we cannot guarantee that your comments will be seen, councillors being busy people not full-time public employees.

Bridge Protest

Cambridge Independent report – in the 14th July2021 edition – that campaigners connected to Mill Road Traders’ Association intend to ‘block the bridge completely’ on the morning of Saturday 24th July.

Piero d’Angelico is quoted as saying, “We will block the whole bridge and not even a bus will be allowed through this time.”

A protest in summer 2020 against the restrictions on Mill Road bridge (Image: Local Democracy Reporter, on the Cambridge News website)

Read the full report Blockade plan for protest on Mill Road bridge in Cambridge By Alex Spencer on the Cambridge Independent website.


Piero d’Angelico was approached for further details. He issued this statement:

We are finalising some posters with information, we will come back to you shortly.

Piero d’Angelico, Ambassador, Mill Road Traders’ Association

The anonymous Don’t Kill Mill Road Facebook page has these details and the accompanying image:

Last ditch attempt to try and persuade councillors to reopen Mill Road bridge to cars is being organised by the Mill Road traders whose livelihoods have been affected by the closure.

Show your support for Local independent shops and join them on the 24th July 2021 @ 11am – 2pm.

Also, please complete this survey set up by Cambridge Labour to gauge public opinion https://www.cambridgelabour.org.uk/mill-road-questionnaire/

Mill Road independent shops are at risk of closure if this bridge continues to be closed. Please share this event with your friends and family members.

Don’t Kill Mill Road Facebook page
Image with date and time as in quote, above

It is not known whether the protesters will attempt to physically prevent pedestrians and cyclists from using the bridge, or only the limited range of vehicles currently permitted to use the bridge.

These details are published here to enable those who support the aims of the protesters to join the protest. If you oppose the protesters, it might be better to avoid the bridge at the time of the protest and make your feelings known elsewhere.


This post is open for (polite) comments, whatever your view.

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
MILL ROAD OPEN
SHOPS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
BRIDGE CLOSED TO THROUGH TRAFFIC
(EXCEPT FOR BUSES AND CYCLES)

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:

Traders overwhelmingly in favour of re-opening Mill Road bridge to cars

“The current bridge restrictions are having a detrimental effect on Mill Road Traders, residents and shoppers”

This was the message delivered by Shapour Meftah, chair of Mill Road Traders’ Association to senior County Councillors, council officers and contractors, at a meeting, on Wednesday 9th September at 2.30pm on Donkey Common, (next to Parkside Pools).

Cambridgeshire County Council and contractors were represented by Chair and Vice Chair of Highways and Transport Committee, Ian Bates and Mark Howell, contractor Skansa’s Principle Engineer, Anthony Eades, and County officers; Sonia Hansen (Traffic Manager) and Andhika Caddy (Engineer).

Traders cited these reasons for opposing the bridge restrictions:

  • Added extra time to people’s daily travel/commute 
  • Causing not less but MORE pollution because alternative routes for car drivers take longer and are over-congested
  • No access to disabled badge holders and emergency vehicles
  • The bollards and barriers have narrowed the road and resulted in more major traffic incidents along Mill Road and danger to cyclists and pedestrians 
  • The dangers of the build out particularly to cyclists with on coming traffic as well as buses which try to overtake parents with their children 
  • Disconnecting people from one side of Mill road to the other; It was explained to those present that Mill Road is not divided by the two boundaries it is ONE road 
  • Following  the 2019 rail works on the bridge and the ongoing gas works one obstacle after another has paralysed businesses and Mill Road has not been given a chance to get back on its feet after months of national pandemic lockdown and enforced closure of businesses
  • Closing the bridge hasn’t helped at all towards social distancing which is, by the government’s own admission not such a risk when passing someone in the street (sic on the closed bridge itself which was the contrived reason given for its closure) whereas gathering or waiting outside restaurants may be
  • People don’t feel safe walking; the government emphasis on encouraging people not to use public transport has made people feel that they are safer in their cars.
  • A number of shops are closing down on Mill Road due to the lack of footfall which has been caused by the bridge closure to cars

The Mill Road Traders’ Association Survey results and the ongoing Open Mill Road Bridge Petition which has already attracted over 2000 signatures was  presented to Councillor Ian Bates and his team.

The survey assessed the impact of the bridge restrictions on both traders and residents within the Petersfield and Romsey wards.  187 Businesses were sent out surveys and 170 responses were received. The 17 businesses which did not respond are no longer trading at this moment. See graphics, below.

  • 4.8 % (8 businesses) in Mill Road support the current restrictions
  • 87.6% of businesses want the bridge fully open
  • 7.6 % of businesses don’t mind
  • 92.9 % are independent businesses
  • 7.1 % are not independent
  • 100% of businesses felt that the Council Consultation was inadequate
  • 76.5% of independent businesses say that they are suffering
  • 17.6% of businesses report no change
  • 5.9% say they have benefitted from the restrictions

Councillor Ian Bates responded was that the County Council are listening and will will be reviewing the results of the Mill Road Traders’ Association survey. For the time being, Traders and Residents have been advised by the County Council to send all their objections to: policyandregulation@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Leading members of Mill Road Traders’ Association say that they doubt the sincerity of this ‘listening’, noting that the Minister of Transport who awarded the funds to the county for these ‘temporary measures’ Grant Shapps has forced his own constituency at Welwyn to reverse the restrictions on the high street saying that it benefitted no one.


See this comment, relating to one of our other posts about the one-way scheme and suspension of parking bays in Welwyn.

Mill Road Bridges Web Editor

The Mill Road Traders’ Association can be contacted for comments at millroadtraders@gmail.com.


Please note: Mill Road Bridges is happy to publish views from any section of Mill Road’s Community of Communities. And to host comments, replies and debate.

The publication of this post by Mill Road Bridges should not be considered an endorsement of the views of the Mill Road Traders’ Association nor of the objections to the Mill Road traffic-reduction measures and associated restrictions on the railway bridge. Neither should this statement be read as one of opposition to their views.

The press release, upon which this post is based, released under the name of Shapour Meftah, Chair, Mill Road Traders’ Association, continues with allegations of ‘collaboration’ and ‘bias’.

Mill Road Bridges does not wish to censor any viewpoint but declines to publish such allegations. Were the press release to be found on the Mill Road Traders’ Association website, we would link to that, for people to view and form their own opinion. The Traders’ website, however, does not appear to have been updated recently.

We take a similar attitude to comments on our website. We aspire to host polite debate on all matters concerning Mill Road.


See also:

Mill Road Bridge – Disentangling the issues

Nina Lübbren, Romsey, published this measured and sensible comment elsewhere on an invitation-only social network. It is reproduced here with Nina’s permission.

At this point, I feel it would be useful to disentangle several issues about the Mill Road bridge closure.

  1. The lack of consultation. Probably most of us would have preferred more consultation but also understand why no consultation took place (because of government requiring immediate action).
  2. The need for social distancing. We can probably all agree that it is vital to enable social distancing for anybody crossing the bridge. Pedestrians have to step onto the road to keep a distance. Cyclists have to cycle in the middle of the road to keep a distance. People in cars are protected from the air outside but are faced with pedestrians and cyclists on the road. This was not a safe scenario.
  3. Decreased traffic; less pollution. A separate issue to 1. and 2. As with last year’s closure of the bridge, the decrease of pollution and traffic (and possible moving of this pollution and traffic elsewhere) is a side-effect of the closure of the bridge. Neither last year’s or this year’s closure was effected in order to address pollution. A joined-up urban planning measure with due consultation and a gathering of statistical data (pollution levels etc) needs to be undertaken in order to address this.
  4. Adverse effect on traders. This can be linked to 1. above but does not affect 2.
  5. Accessibility. For those who cannot cross the bridge by bike or on foot, there will need to be provision made, and quickly. Again, this is linked to 1. but now that the urgency of immediate action has passed, I would hope that the [Cambridgeshire County] Council puts measures in place to address both 2. and 5.

Nina Lübbren, Romsey


See also:


Do you have views about the measures which Cambridgeshire County Council are taking? How is it working so far… for you? Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can add your comments below. Or on many of the posts above.


Protest Walk

There has been significant opposition to the restrictions on Mill Road Bridge posted on various social media sites.

This protest has been spotted on Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor, a localised social media site.

Poster text:

ARE YOU UPSET BY
MILL ROAD BRIDGE CLOSURE
AND UBSTRUCTIUNS?
EN0UGH TALK!

WALK THE WALK WITH us
THIS SATURDAY. 1 AUGUST 2020
Peaceful & distanced stroll up Mill Road.
across the Bridge. and back
Please gather at 12 noon — Petersfield Play Area
(across from Donkey Common)
This poster has been appearing in the windows of some Mill Road traders

The publication of this post by Mill Road Bridges should not be considered an endorsement of this protest or of the objections to the Mill Road traffic-reduction measures and associated restrictions on the railway bridge. Neither should this statement be read as one of opposition to this protest and its aims.

It is unclear quite who the ‘ad hoc committee of Romsey and Petersfield residents’ are, but Pamela Wesson of Fantasia, 64 Mill Road, Cambridge,
CB12AS
purveyor of “unusual and unnecessary items” has been most active on Nextdoor, Facebook and Twitter.

Pamela has published, on Nextdoor, some of the responses to the poster. These are reproduced below.

To whom it may concern,

I am writing today to voice my support for the Mill Rd Bridge Closure. I live on Cavendish Road. I think the closure is working very well and makes Mill Rd much more pleasant to use as a cyclist and pedestrian. I do not understand the protests against the bridge closure. It seems unlikely to me that a large number of people drive to Mill Rd to shop given the limited parking, or that they are going to be significantly discouraged by having to park on one side of the bridge and walk to the other.

If anything, now that more of the road can be used by pedestrians, I would like to see provisions for more outdoor seating so that businesses suck as coffeeshops can serve more patrons.

I do not agree with the Mill Road Traders Association or the Ad Hoc Committee of Romsey and Petersfield Residents Against Obstructions and Bridge Closure on Mill Road that the bridge should be reopened.

Kind Regards,

K[…] N[…]

I have just got a flier through my door which does not specify any reasons for objecting the road closure but is planning a demonstration! Mill road is used by through traffic all the time. These people do not stop and visit shops or facilities on mill road, they cause noise, pollution and danger to our children.

I have not been able to cycleover mill road bridge with my children and as a result do not use shops on the town side of mill road. The one time i took my daughter over the bridge she fell off into the road! Wiith the bridge shut i’ll be hanging out and spending money on mill road more.

Shutting the bridge to commuters who have no interest in our community is a good thing.

I do not understand how it has a negative impact on anyone. Cycle or walk and if you must drive, just drive around!

I too now have to go the long way round in my car and i’m more than happy to do so in order to benefit my community.

I really do not understand objections to this scheme. Please can you explain?

L[…] (Thoday Street)

Asked, by another commenter on Nextdoor, “why are you posting copies of other people’s opinions etc?” Pamela responded, “Not fussed by showing other opinions. Often just showing them reveals why I personally oppose them.”


We are happy to publish your (polite) opinions on the Mill Road traffic-reduction measures and associated restrictions on the railway bridge, in the comments section of the Wider footways, barriers and bridge restrictions post. The How is it working so far… post is also open for comments.


Interestingly, in addition to a leaflet from the ‘ad hoc committee of Romsey and Petersfield residents’ (see poster above) a leaflet expressing opposing views from Cambridge Cycling Campaign (CamCycle) based on this post – Camcycle repeats call to county to fast-track improvements on Mill Road – on their website appeared on our web-editor’s doormat on Friday 31st July.

The leaflet also referenced a recent letter to Cllr Ian Bates, Chair of the Highways and Transport Committee. See below.

Click on the image to read/download the full 3-page PDF letter.

This post is also open for comments, but please limit these to this protest walk (ahead of the walk, during the walk, or afterwards).

If you have photographs to accompany your comments, please email them to us, from the same email address which you used for your comment.


See also:


Mill Road Bridge – Blue Badge Petition

Romsey resident, Ruth Greene, has started this petition.

To allow Blue Badge holders have access over Mill Road Bridge, Cambridge

Cambridge Council took the decision to widen the pavements over Mill Road Bridge, without consultation and only 2 days warning. Their reasoning was to encourage people to social distance. 

This will allow access for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport & emergency vehicles. This work is permanent, not temporary.

However, no access for Blue Badge holders, taxi drivers or private vehicles. I believe the Council has said it will review access for Blue Badge holders in 6 months.

Discriminating against the disabled is disgusting – and contravenes the Equalities Act 2020.

Work will also be done to widen some of the pavements both sides of the bridge – at the moment they are just screened off. We were not informed of this.

Not every resident on Mill Road is able to ride a bike or walk very far. Taking a taxi will cost more because of the circuitous route that the driver will have to take – and the disabled and elderly are not all made of money! And yes, I am walking disabled, not allowed to drive and cannot walk far without pain.

Please sign up to this petition, and compel the Council to re-think before it is too late.

Ruth Greene, Romsey Resident

Click here to go to the petition and decide whether to support Ruth.


See also these related items:


This post is not open for comments. Signatories to Ruth’s petition can leave them with their vote.

Comments on this website could be left below one of these posts.