Covid-related poems from E.L.Jenkins

VIRUS

(4th March 2020)

Here’s a tongue in cheek, somewhat poetic-licensed view of our current situation and what it may be like when we emerge from it at the ‘other end’.

ELJ 

We can have ‘Corona’ today,
The ‘Corona Man’ is on his way.
Lime’s my fave, but Raspberry’s ok,
And ‘Cream Soda’ though extra to pay!

Now ‘Corona’ when it’s heard
Has become a feared word!
Deadly, spreading across the World,
Millions to die! But surely absurd?

Stocks and shares to collapse,
‘Advanced Capitalism’ too, perhaps!
Community then will mean a lot,
Bartering to live, using one’s stock.

Whoever survives will be immune,
A New World System can emerge.
People will matter, everyone the same,
No elitism, no meritocracy, certainly no fame!

The old and young will have died,
Middle-aged will try to stem the tide
They’ll strive to procreate once more,
To help overcome whatever’s in store!

No need then for a warning,
Climate’ll be no longer warming.
No more temperatures extreme,
Earth green, deserts further between.

Man’s ingenuity will win through
However much there’ll need to do,
Yes, we’ll be here for eons to come,
Until Earth’s gobbled up by the Sun!

The Laws of Physics and the Universe,
Outside of our immediate world,
Will determine when mankind’s gone,
It’ll be when time and times are done!

E.L.JENKINS 4th March 2020


VIRUS-SEQUEL

(3rd May 2020)

We are hopefully going to have an opportunity to contemplate what kind of future we’d like when this pandemic is eventually overcome. A number of possibilities may occur and indeed from news editorial and newsletters, together with discussions on tv and radio, it appears that more people are beginning to realise and contemplate our (and the World’s)  future, in ways that would have seemed bizarre speculation only a short time ago.

Some, of course, are contemplating a swift return to a similar economic situation to that prevailing before the virus took hold!

Thinking this and possible outcomes, I felt it worthwhile to write a follow-up poem to ‘VIRUS’ – ‘VIRUS-SEQUEL’. The content is intended to be both controversial and contentious (somewhat ‘Brave New World’), but nevertheless thought-provoking! I truly believe poetry can be a fine medium for this approach.

Again it’s a ‘tongue in cheek’, somewhat poetic-licensed view of our current situation and what it may be like when we emerge from it at the ‘other end’ (present/future).  I hope you like it.

  ELJ

When a vaccine’s been manufactured
All will flock to its Standard,
Virulence will have been quashed,
The Corona Virus’ll be squashed!

There will be some silver lining spun
With battle won, Man will Soldier on.
Many of the old will have gone
Our Health Service could be second to none!

And Youth will need to play it’s part,
To treat life more seriously,
Over indulgence a thing of the past,
Weekend revelling, much more modestly!

A&E will then easily cope,
Hospitals tranquil and calm no doubt,
Fewer ‘Oldies’ to block their beds,
Hopefully less disease to spread.

Costs of course will be much less,
Fewer hierarchical ladders perhaps to climb?
More altruism, more sublime.

Would people be ready to go at a certain age?!
Or ‘Coldly Preserved’ for eternity!
Wisdom archived by electronics,
No one ever old enough to be a sage.

Teaching performed through holograms,
Research advanced by linked-in Apps,
Robotic technicians, always agreeable,
Equipment everlasting but biodegradable.

As the Young will still be here
Man’s future could be more clear,
Time to consider how to progress
To try to prevent another mess!

Permanent synthetic production halted,
Only degradable plastics moulded,
Doors and sills made from Nature’s Bounty,
No bursting landfills spoiling country.

Science and Art to be paramount,
No ‘tribal’ politics in between,
Bureaucracy to be minor
And very rarely seen.

Then with less people, maybe,
We can give the Earth a chance.
To let Nature mend itself,
And finally restore the balance.

The Planet and Mankind in accord
Each benefiting from the other,
Symbiosis on a Worldwide Front,
Abundance for all; we can afford!

There could be a turn away
From Global based economies,
Back to Countries on their own,
Running their markets alone.

Enjoying cultures unique
Eating and living differently,
Respecting everyone’s ways,
Without any uniformity.

For a long time to come
This thought should prevail,
Less travel for pleasure,
And mainly by rail!

As has been said before,
We’ll be here for evermore.
Eternal hope resides, at least
Until a greater force decides!

E.L.JENKINS 3rd May 2020

Petition: Allow taxis to go, where buses go

Rashel Mohammed started this petition to Cambridgeshire County Council

Mill Road Bridges exists to give a voice to all who live in, trade in, shop in, visit, or have an interest in Mill Road. Our linking to this petition should not be read as support. Neither should this statement be read as opposition.

By excluding taxis access on Mill Road Bridge will discriminate against the elderly, or people with disabilities who are totally reliant on a door-to-door service. 

These individuals are statistically more likely to not own a vehicle or cycle and have mobility problems. Furthermore, in these challenging times they may have significantly less disposable income with which to pay additional costs associated with travelling the much longer routes incurred as a direct result of the diversion, for instance doctors appointments or essential shopping trips.

Rashel Mohammed

Click here to see the full petition, and decide if you wish to sign.


Don’t forget: If you have a petition about any aspect of Mill Road, let us know and we’ll usually be happy to link to it.


You can also add your (polite) comments below, or in the comments section of the Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure post or the How is it working so far… post.

See also:


Ideas for future Mill Road prosperity

A (second) personal view from Edward Jenkins

Assuming that, despite moves being made against progress, the plan for reduced usage of Mill Road Bridge will proceed, there are numerous ways in which the Councils and Traders could work together towards future prosperity in the Road.

The present payment system for both the Gwydir Street, and Great Eastern Street car parks could be arranged to provide short term, free parking, with significant payment penalties should the provided time be exceeded. Additionally, a heavy financial penalty could be introduced for non compliance with the arrangement!

The City Council could extend the Business Improvement District (BID) to include ALL of Mill Road*, with appropriate City Centre signage, and work with the Traders and other representative groups to provide incentives for day, and longer term, visitors to come to this part of the city. This could include displaying the history of the Road, possibly in the form of mosaics and/or wall and lamp post paintings, together with flyers and ‘treasure’ maps being made available at locations, such as the tourist centre office, in the city.

*Editorial Note:
We understand that, to extend the current BID boundary (see map) all businesses within a proposed extension with a rateable value of £30,000 or more will be able to vote. There must then be a double majority in favour – by rateable value and by number of businesses. Cambridge City Council and the current BID may propose, but if the Mill Road Traders’ Association opposes…
(We are open to correction on this.)

The Milly Card was an initiative of the No Mill Road Tesco Campaign to promote independent businesses

A loyalty card system similar to the Milly Card tried a while ago, but with a comprehensive, sophisticated, interactive website system to include details of all Businesses and Card Holders, in which incentive type offers would be presented and taken up, bookings made, together with arrangements for purchase collection.

With the large chain type stores on the wane, now is the opportunity for the return of the high street and its wide array of shops of all kinds. Hopefully we will see a much more interesting and functional Mill Road emerging after this difficult time, and the uniformity of the present, changing into a wider ranging business area with more true independents located here.

Edward Jenkins


You can read Edward Jenkins’ previous post Current Trading Problems in Mill Road here.


See also:


Your (polite) responses are also welcome in the comments section below.


The Gas Man Cometh (Again)

Just as you thought it couldn’t get any worse…

Privatised gas-main utility Cadent, with its contractor Triio, has seven weeks of disruption planned for Mill Road.

And you thought that the gas-main replacement work was all done in the summer (and autumn) of 2019? It seems not, as this letter, received by a local trader, on the Petersfield (city) side of Mill Road bridge, reveals.

At the time of publishing this post, it was unclear whether this work would be limited to the Petersfield (city) side of Mill Road bridge, or wopuld also take place on the Romsey side. It would now appear that:

The gas works by Cadent are set to start at the junction with Mackenzie Road and end at the four-way junction of Mill Road, Parkside, Gonville Place and East Road. They are currently set to run from July 27 to September 11.

Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent, 24 July 2020

Dear Gas Customer,

We’re improving the gas pipes in your street – we need to temporarily disconnect your gas supply

We look after the gas pipes in your area, and we’re committed to keeping you safe and warm. To ensure you continue to receive a reliable gas supply, we are going to replace the pipes in your street. We will need to turn off your gas supply for a short time and gain access to your property.

Working with our partners TRIIO, we plan to start this work between 27.07.2020 and 27.09.2020, and we expect it to last approximately 07 week(s).

We recognise that you may have concerns about COVID-19, and we want to reassure you that your safety is our number one priority. All our engineers follow the latest guidance from the Government. You can find more about this at cadentgas.com/coronavirus.

What you need to do

  • If you or anyone in your home is seIf-isolating and/or shielding, let us know as soon as possible – if you haven’t already done so – using the contact details overleaf. It’s very important you do this, so we can put measures in place to keep everyone safe.
  • We will need access to your property on the day your supply is turned off and at various times throughout the day, including access to your gas appliances once your supply has been reconnected. Someone over 18 must be present to allow the work inside the property to take place. Please do not ask a friend or neighbour to be present. We’ll update you with a specific date closer to the time.
  • All of our engineers carry an identity card; please ask to see this before allowing anyone into your property.
  • Ensure that your landlord knows you have received this letter, and let us know of any potential hazards e.g. asbestos, family pets, that might impact our work as we would like to discuss these before the start date to ensure we work safely.
  • Consider postponing any plans to resurface your driveway or landscape your garden as our works may require digging outside your property.
  • It would be helpful if you could remove any obstructions from around your gas meter before we start work.

You can find more information in the enclosed leaflet or at www.bettergaspipes.co.uk. If you have any questions or concerns – or to let us know that someone in your home is self-isolating and/or shielding – please call us on 0800 151 2404 or email wecare@cadentgas.com.

Yours faithfully,

Cadent Mains Replacement Customer Team


Understandably, Mill Road’s independent traders are concerned…

Beleaguered traders who say the closure of Mill Road bridge in Cambridge to motorists has caused chaos and damaged trade are reeling after it was announced that they now face seven weeks of gas pipe repairs in the street.

They warned it could be the “last nail in our coffin” following the lockdown.

Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent, 24 July 2020

Read the full article: Gas works ‘last nail in coffin’ for Mill Road in Cambridge say traders


Some thoughts about the implications come to mind:

  • With the Cambridgeshire County Council’s ‘pavement-widening’ barriers and Cadent/Triio’s will any bus, taxi or delivery vehicle be able to navigate Mill Road?
  • As the arguments rage about the effectiveness of the Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure and its effects on trade, how will we disentangle the effects of Cambridgeshire County Council’s initiative, from Covid-19 fear of leaving home and the latest Cadent/Triio work?

And one final thing, just in case anyone didn’t catch the reference in the title of this post…

Your (polite) comments are welcome, below. Be as critical as you wish, but any unacceptable words/phrases will be removed.


See also:


Current Trading Problems in Mill Road

A personal view from Edward Jenkins

All town and city centres need to adapt and evolve to survive the continuing effects of Covid-19. Ingenuity is now at a premium, being needed in copious amounts! The situation in Mill Road is essentially no different, in my opinion, from that in countless high streets throughout the country. Yes there is the particular difficulty due to changing use of the bridge, but now is the time to be proactive and use energies to change the approach.

It has gradually become apparent that a significant number of businesses along Mill Road rely, and have always relied, upon distribution networks which provide the major part of their trade incomes. Needless to say this style of business requires pick up and deposit of goods throughout their long opening hours, and necessitates continual parking on pavements and double yellow lines, a factor largely ignored and unenforced over the years! Even taxi drivers order their snacks, meals & drinks by phone and collect when parked illegally!

Yes the new situation at the bridge will cause disruption of tried and tested schemes, but surely these can be worked on and changed in thoughtful ways? The removal of through traffic should help with the parking required, but it is imperative the new road lay-out be installed quickly and efficiently, without undue delay. It should also be possible in future, for the County/City Councils to work together with Mill Road’s Traders, in a compromising way, to build trust, and move towards something of a consensus. An example of this could be the installation of a parking system at Gwydir Street, similar to the present one, but with a pre-programmed free period (say 30mins), to encourage short term use.

Of course Mill Road has fewer pedestrian shoppers at present, but this is not because of the bridge, it is because a large part of the population is in dread of Covid-19, fearful of walking out and entering stores. Having got used to ordering goods on the net, they will take a lot of encouragement to come out and about again.

This is not a problem unique to Mill Road, it applies everywhere, and can only be tackled successfully through imaginative advertising over time.

The only other way, it would appear, is for some businesses, which are little more than ‘warehouses with public access’, to move to industrial units on the outskirts, where overheads will be significantly less.

Edward Jenkins


Mill Road Bridges welcomes personal views from members of Mill Road’s ‘Community of Communities’ – residents, shoppers, café- and pub-goers, traders, worshippers, visitors. Email info@mill-road.com with your submission.


Your (polite) responses are also welcome in the comments section below.

See also:


Petition opposing the bridge closure

(Technically this is a restriction rather than a closure)

Mill Road Bridges exists to give a voice to all who live in, trade in, shop in, visit, or have an interest in Mill Road. Our linking to this petition should not be read as support. Neither should this statement be read as opposition.

Click on the image to go to the petition

James Youd, Labour Organiser started this petition to Cambridgeshire County Council.

Cambridgeshire County Council has is using £575k funding to implement a number of Experimental Traffic Orders (ETO) to completely shut several roads in Cambridge for an initial period of 6 months without consultation.

The most drastic of these in the closure for all traffic expect buses, cyclists and pedestrians of Mill Road bridge…

James Youd

Click here to see the full petition, and decide if you wish to sign.


Don’t forget: If you have a petition about any aspect of Mill Road, let us know and we’ll usually be happy to link to it.


You can also add your (polite) comments below, or in the comments section of the Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure post or the How is it working so far… post.


See also:


Celebrate Local Businesses

And support Mill Road’s ‘Community of Communities’

“Would it be possible to start to focus on the importance that supporting local businesses is for the community? Particularly after the recent lockdown where lots of people started to shop more locally it seems a shame to lose this momentum,” writes Jo, in a comment below the Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure post.

We have a few posts about what local traders are doing…

There is a limit to what research Mill Road Bridges can do. And a limit to the time which local traders can devote to letting us know. We are happy to post about anything they’re doing.

Perhaps the best way is if we can get readers’ feedback on their experiences of great service and innovative ways of trading from local businesses.

Maybe you’ve more-or-less abandoned the weekly run to the edge-of-town supermarket, in favour of friendly local shops. Perhaps you’ve delighted in the quality and range of foodstuffs in Mill Road’s shops. And have you made discoveries that you’d love to celebrate, and to share with the Mill Roaders?

Over to you…


See also:


How is it working so far…

Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure


Some comments on Twitter prompted the web-editor to take a look, and to create this post – examining barrier positioning, pavement safety and the problems on Mill Road Bridge.


Pavement parking (including loading/unloading) is problematic. These vehicles were spotted on Friday 26th June between 16:35 and 17:11.

If the intention of these works was to enhance pavement space for pedestrians, it seems self-defeating if vehicles are still permitted to mount the pavements. See my personal view about Protecting Pedestrian Space.

Some of it is habitual on behalf of drivers, but some is a direct result of mis-placed barriers by Cambridgeshire County Council, as in this case at Arjuna.

Annotated photo from Arjuna wholefoods co-operative

More on Arjuna’s criticism of the scheme here – Arjuna calls Mill Road scheme ‘potential disaster zone for traffic and pedestrians alike’ by Mike Scialom, in the Cambridge Independent.


Meanwhile, on Mill Road Bridge, I spoke to a retired gentleman, sunning himself on the Suzy Oakes commemorative bench, who told me, “I’ve been sitting here half-an-hour and counted 47 vehicles.”

This level of infringement is borne out by these vehicles, observed on Friday 26th June between 17:28 and 17:36. Some drivers may not have been aware and not have read the signage. But it is difficult to believe that the taxi driver was unaware of the closure, following the noisy demonstration on Wednesday 24th June.


We are waiting for an accident…
Two accidents reported yesterday at Romsey side.

Piero d’Angelico
Video Friday 26th June from Piero d’Angelico

And these vehicles, observed on Sunday 28th June between 16:08 and 17:40.

Notice, again, the taxis, the two supermarket delivery vehicles (Asda and Sainsbury’s, the close-passing of cyclists and the congestion at the top of the bridge. Note also the cyclist on the pavement – avoiding the hazardous layout of the carriageway.

The situation is hazardous. It would appear that some drivers are aware that the ANPR enforcement cameras have not yet been installed. Others have failed to read the warning signs, or think rules don’t apply to them. Signage need to be clearer.

More explicit signage – No Entry except buses and cycles – is needed urgently. A rethink of the width and positioning of the pavement ‘build-out’ barriers needs to be undertaken, so that cyclists are not put at risk by those drivers who fail or decline to observe the signs.


You are welcome to post (polite) comments on bridge infractions and safety, on the layout of barriers, and on pavement below.

If you wish to comment more generally on the merits and disadvantages to the scheme generally, please add them to the comments section of the parallel post – Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure.


See also:


Lockdown song from a local youngster.

Hema Tasker was kind enough to send us this song and the accompanying images.

‘Lockdown Days’

When times are sad
do not worry
Cause you know
You’ll get your quarry
Go outside
Have lots of fun
Ball games anyone?

But be happy don’t give up
and I’ll help you up up up
But be happy don’t give up
and I’ll help you up up up.

You’re missing friends
and teachers
But when you care
no more glitches.
In a life of fun
do not be done!

But be happy don’t give up
and I’ll help you up up up
But be happy don’t give up
and I’ll help you up up up!

George Katos aged 8
Lyrics, tune and images are all by George!

Hear George perform his song.

Blue Badge holders access to Mill Road

Could an exemption apply?

In our Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure blogpost we raised the question of potential exemptions for Blue Badge holders. However, it’s complicated, as A lifeline for blue badge holders on Mill Road bridge? – a report in the Cambridge Independent, by Mike Scialom – reveals.

Blue badges belong to individuals, regardless of whether they are a car drivers or not. They can be used by friends and relatives when giving the blue badge holder a lift etc. So they aren’t tied to a car, but an individual, so not sure how easy access would be given…

blue badge holder Suzanne Morris, quoted in the Cambridge Independent

We had a long and detailed comment, from Margaret, which deserves its own blogpost. Her full comment is published below. If you wish to reply to Margaret you can do so here, in the comments section of our post: Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure.


 I agree that this closure of the bridge to cars causes problems for people with disabilities.

My son has a Blue Badge. The poster who cited the arrangements at Cambridge Station for Blue Badge holders as being a workable arrangement probably hasn’t experienced the appalling bureaucracy and the threats from the Car Parking Company. My son doesn’t drive, and we don’t have a car. His support workers do.

The car parking Company makes you register the vehicle not the Blue Badge. This means that we can’t use the Disabled Bays, because of the appalling time-consuming process you have to go through every time there is a different vehicle being used to transport my son. And it seems, even when you have registered, the system issues you with a fine if you need to park at the station the day you have registered.

Last year we had 18 different support workers, most of whom used their cars to transport my son. You cannot register more than one car with a Blue Badge. This means every time there is a different vehicle you have to go online, take a picture of the badge, upload it to their website, fill in a detailed form. This takes me hours and help from several people. We aren’t all able to do this sort of thing. When my son needed a different car with a different driver, we had to go through this all over again.

What I didn’t realise was that we weren’t registering a second car, we were automatically deregistering the first one as well. The system didn’t tell me this. And you try phoning them up! Each time it was at least a 40-minute wait to get through and then you are given wrong information. The [people] from the parking company who set up this system fail to account for the fact the Badge belongs to the disabled person and not to any vehicle. They don’t care. They care nothing about disability issues.

The two railway companies involved at Cambridge station aren’t bothered either. The car parking company is acting as the agent of the company that runs the Station. The NCP should either have staff going round the car park checking the Blue Badge’s validity or, if they insist on scanning, they should scan the badge itself on entry or exit. Instead they rely on number plate recognition.

After I registered the second car, we then found that I needed to re-register the first one. I had an email saying this had been done and off the driver went with my son. But a few days later he then received a threatening letter from NCP imposing a heavy fine – nearly £100.

It took hours and hours of my time over several weeks to get them to cancel the fine. I asked for an apology but never received one. This system blatantly fails to provide for disabled people’s needs. And I, as the principal family carer, need this sort of problem like I need a hole in the head. So, the outcome is that now we never park at the station. I bet the same problem would apply if a Blue Badge exemption was brought in for crossing Mill Road.

Now we have to use taxis if we need to drive to the station the journey time and the cost has gone up because taxis can’t cross the bridge. Last summer when the bridge was shut, and Mill Road was chaos with the gas main, we hardly went into town at all because buses weren’t running, and taxi journeys were an expensive nightmare. Many drivers refused even to accept the fare when they heard where we lived. We are now back with the very expensive and unnecessarily lengthy taxi journeys. We are not getting on a bus at the moment for safety reasons.

Oh yes, and I think the street where we live will now become a rat run for vehicles needing to turn round before the bridge.

Thanks a million.

Margaret, here, in the comments section of our post: Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure

James Youd, Secretary of Unite the Union Cambridge Community branch, together with Cambridge City Councillor, and former mayor,Gerri Bird have started this petition – Stop Road Closures – Cut Cambridge congestion through action.


This blogpost is not open for comments, but the comments section of our post: Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure remains open.


See also: