Mill Road Consultations (again)

Have your say on improving Mill Road

The Greater Cambridge Partnership is consulting on Mill Road and its potential future and want to hear from residents, people who visit, work on, or use Mill Road, and people who own businesses on and near the road, as well as people who travel through the area.

The consultation closes at midday on Monday 21st March 2022.

Image of cover of booklet mentioned in caption
Click on the image to visit the consultation page.
Click here to view/download the Mill Road Spring 2022 booklet (PDF)

The Greater Cambridge Partnership is the body set up under a ‘City Deal’ in agreement with (then) Chancellor, George Osborne, with a budget of over £500 million.

Venn diagram from Smarter Cambridge Transport, showing the complexity of local government bodies in Cambridgeshire
Image courtesy of Smarter Cambridge Transport

This consultation (and the related on-line ‘workshops’, run by Involve, UK’s leading public participation charity) are initial stages where the Greater Cambridge Partnership are asking the public for their views on a range of options for Mill Road. Read more about the consultation in the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s explanatory booklet (PDF).


Local groups welcome consultation

Camcycle (Cambridge Cycling Campaign), Mill Road Traders’ Association and local campaigning group Mill Road – A Street For People, issued a joint statement (PDF) welcoming a new round of consultation on improving Mill Road, recognising differences of views about how Mill Road could see improvements to safety, attractiveness of trade and an improved environment, and agreeing that the consultation must be carried out in an effective, fair and inclusive way. They did, however, express some reservations about the focus group ‘workshops’ mentioned above. As a result, an additional Sunday workshop session has been arranged. See below.

All are united in urging local residents, and everyone who travels or trades along Mill Road, to respond and share their views.


How else can I find out more, and give my views?

Greater Cambridge Partnership is holding public meetings, in-person drop-ins and a Sunday (on-line) workshop. All of these require (free) pre-registration. Find out more and register here – Public meetings, in-person drop-ins and Greater Cambridge Partnership workshop.

There will also be a Greater Cambridge Partnership East Community Forum (on-line) meeting, on Monday 21st March 2022. Projects that will be discussed include Cambridge Eastern Access, Chisholm Trail phases 1 & 2, Mill Road and the Greenways. Find out more and register here – Greater Cambridge Partnership East Community Forum meeting.


Wasn’t this issue settled in the summer of 2021?

The earlier Experimental Traffic Regulation Order, was brought in by Cambridgeshire County Council, at the behest of central government, with a degree of urgency, in response to health needs at that time. There was a consultation, during the experiment, whose outcome was unclear, owing to some people submitting multiple responses to the survey.

At the time a Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “…an open survey format was used. Unfortunately, this meant that the system was open to mischief-making – but duplicate entries and patterns can be spotted, as they were in this case.” New controversy over data on Mill Road bridge consultation in Cambridge By Gemma Gardner, Cambridge Independent, 27 October 2021.

At this point Cambridgeshire County Councillors on the Highways and Transport Committee voted to allow the road to reopen to general traffic, with the plan to ask for public views on the future of the road. In November 2021, the Highways and Transport Committee voted to ask the Greater Cambridge Partnership to carry out a further consultation on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council.

The latest consultation, which closes at midday on Monday 21st March 2022, is an initial stage to assess views on the future of Mill Road. When the Greater Cambridge Partnership, in collaboration with Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Committee have firm proposals there will be a full (statutory) consultation, ahead of implementation of any permanent Traffic Regulation Order.


Aren’t there a number of other issues?

Yes…

But the present blogpost might stretch into eternity if these were considered here. The questions below, and related issues, are considered in a related blogpost, currently in preparation – More thoughts on Mill Road’s future. (This link will work as soon as the associated blogpost is published.)


Many people appreciated the greater safety for foot and cycle traffic during the earlier bridge restrictions, others complained about the limitations to the use of motor-vehicles. Whatever your opinions, do click through to the Greater Cambridge Partnership Mill Road consultation page to make them known.

And please make full use of the three narrative responses to give the Greater Cambridge Partnership the benefit of your comprehensive views.


This post was updated on Monday 28th February 2022, to correct links to the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s explanatory booklet (PDF), as the link had been changed, internally, on the consultation page.
It ws further updated to provide links to each section of the related blogpost– More thoughts on Mill Road’s future, and to clarify that this is now published.


Most of Mill Road Bridges’ blogposts are open to (polite) comments. This one is not, in order to collate comments in the related blogpost– More thoughts on Mill Road’s future.

More thoughts on Mill Road’s future

The Greater Cambridge Partnership is consulting on the potential future of Mill Road, and wants to hear from residents, people who visit, work on, or use Mill Road, and people who own businesses on and near the road, as well as people who travel through the area.

This post explores a number of related issues.

Image of cover of booklet mentioned in caption
Click on the image to visit the consultation page.
Click here to view/download the Mill Road Spring 2022 booklet (PDF)

For fuller details on this consultation, public meetings, in-person drop-ins and a Sunday (on-line) workshop, see our earlier blogpost – Mill Road Consultations (again).


What are the related issues?

Wasn’t this issue settled in the summer of 2021?

The earlier Experimental Traffic Regulation Order was brought in by Cambridgeshire County Council, at the behest of central government, with a degree of urgency, in response to health needs at that time. There was a consultation, during the experiment, whose outcome was unclear, owing to some people submitting multiple responses to the survey.

At the time a Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “…an open survey format was used. Unfortunately, this meant that the system was open to mischief-making – but duplicate entries and patterns can be spotted, as they were in this case.” New controversy over data on Mill Road bridge consultation in Cambridge By Gemma Gardner, Cambridge Independent, 27 October 2021.

At this point Cambridgeshire County Councillors on the Highways and Transport Committee voted to allow the road to reopen to general traffic, with the plan to ask for public views on the future of the road. In November 2021, the Highways and Transport Committee voted to ask the Greater Cambridge Partnership to carry out a further consultation on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council.

Back to related issues index.


Will this consultation be an improvement?

The latest consultation, which closes at midday on Monday 21st March 2022, is an initial stage to assess views on the future of Mill Road.

The Mill Road Spring 2022 consultation uses the expertise of Bang the Table’s EngagementHQ Platform.

When and if the Greater Cambridge Partnership, in collaboration with Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Committee have firm proposals they are obliged to undertake a full (statutory) consultation, ahead of implementation of any permanent Traffic Regulation Order(s).

There are also related on-line ‘workshops’, run by Involve, UK’s leading public participation charity.

But you can’t please everyone…

An article – Mill Road traffic survey slammed by irate locals for being ‘too restrictive’ By Fareid Atta, Cambridge News, 25 February 2022 – highlights a number of arguments found on social media.

I feel [the survey] has been constructed to lead to an outcome they desire, and forcing you to vote for the status quo.

The questionnaire does not allow people to really affect the result by offering the “required” “yes”, “no” questions.

Two comments cited in the Cambridge News article linked above.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership’s explanatory booklet (PDF) outlines measures that could be put in place on Mill Road.
One of the survey questions asks:

How far are you supportive or unsupportive of the following three options for Mill Road? Please refer to pages 6-8 of the brochure.
Theme 1: Do nothing
Theme 2: Improve the quality of place
Theme 3: Changes to traffic and access in the medium and longer term

Mill Road 2022 consultation

Each ‘theme’ is outlined in full, and each can be answered on a scale of ‘Strongly support’ , through ‘Neither support nor oppose’, to ‘Strongly oppose’. What is “too restrictive” in that? See the slideshow below. Reading the detail will be clearer by viewing/downloading the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s explanatory booklet (PDF).

  • These images do not support reader technology. Please view/download the Greater Cambridge Partnership's explanatory booklet (PDF) mentioned earlier.
  • These images do not support reader technology. Please view/download the Greater Cambridge Partnership's explanatory booklet (PDF) mentioned earlier.
  • These images do not support reader technology. Please view/download the Greater Cambridge Partnership's explanatory booklet (PDF) mentioned earlier.

Moreover there are three open questions, each enabling an extended narrative response:

Do you have any other comments on the future of Mill Road?

Please comment if you feel any of the proposals would either positively or negatively affect or impact on any such person/s or group/s. [Relating to the potential impact on people of differing ethnic or religious groups, genders, people with disabilities, etc.]

Do you have any other comments about our proposals for Mill Road or how the road could function in the future?

Mill Road 2022 consultation

Quite how these questions are “too restrictive” is difficult to understand.

But I still find the questions unhelpful; I want to state my own views

If you really don’t like the questions, and would prefer to email your thoughts on the future of Mill Road, email consultations@greatercambridge.org.uk with the subject line “Mill Road Consultation spring 2022” or something very similar. Put as many paragraphs into your email as you wish and state your personal view. Add either your full address or all of your postcode except the last two letters. Your views will be recorded.

Back to related issues index.


Shouldn’t Mill Road take a ‘fair share’ of through motor-traffic?

This seems to be the view of Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge Business Improvement District.

We need to take a holistic view of city access and thus cannot just include one road, or even one bridge on one road. It is not surprising many Mill Road residents were happy with the closure – less traffic, cleaner air, and a nicer environment to walk and cycle. However, once the city did open up and visitors, workers and goods could not easily access the city, then the folly of a single-street solution became clear and it was demonstrated how unequal this approach is.

Mill Road can’t be viewed in isolation By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge Business Improvement District, Sponsored feature, Cambridge Independent, 17 February 2022.

Sandison also writes:

Buses seem to be a popular solution and, to be fair, many workers would happily travel into Cambridge by bus if they were quick, available early and late at night, affordable, clean and green and the network was more comprehensive. This would make the city more attractive to workers and visitors who can be deterred by the current congestion issues. To really incentivise people to use buses we need them to be funded upfront so they have a positive alternative to their car.

ibid

That seems fair enough but, beyond any up-front ‘seedcorn’ injection of public funds, better bus services will require revenue schemes beyond farebox receipts. However, Sandison is on record for opposing a congestion charge which could provide exactly such a revenue stream.

Workers in the retail hospitality and leisure industries are towards the lower end of the pay scale. They often cannot afford to live in our beautiful city. They spend too long each day commuting, usually by car, since their home is poorly served by an inefficient and unavailable, at the right times, public transport system.

I was thus taken aback to read of the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s plans to introduce a congestion charge…

Good COP or bad COP? It’s hard to tell By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge Business Improvement District, Sponsored feature, Cambridge Independent, 18 November 2021.

Indeed Sandison is in favour of allowing commuters to park in our residential areas, adding to traffic congestion and obstructing the existing bus services.

Many … workers park on the public highway for free in the residential streets around the city…

Maintaining … on-street free parking and not having a congestion charge are essential if the city wishes to still be able to attract workers in this sector. I would ask those in favour of more residents’ parking schemes to consider this.

You can’t park here mate! Considering the Cambridge parking and congestion challenge By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge Business Improvement District, Sponsored feature, Cambridge Independent, 20 January 2022.

Improved bus services and lower fares would help the least affluent residents and workers – those who cannot afford cars nor the petrol to fill their tanks, nor shiny new electric vehicles. But, how is it possible to improve public transport without reducing the volume of traffic passing through the city?

It is astonishing how (even in the midst of a climate crisis) there are those who imagine that poverty can be eased by further facilitating private motoring.

Why does the CEO of Cambridge Business Improvement District use advertorial, to comment on Mill Road, an area of the city which is outside their remit? Should they be permitted, as a body, rather than as individuals, to influence the current Mill Road consultation?

Unfettered access to the city centre by private vehicles might be in the interests of Cambridge Business Improvement District – though, arguably vastly improved public transport would be of better benefit – but could seriously disadvantage Mill Road as a shopping destination.

And there is no sign of Cambridge Cambridge Business Improvement District seeking to remove restrictions on vehicular access to St Andrew’s Street, Sidney Street, Bridge Street, Magdalene Street, St John’s Street, Trinity Street, King’s Parade and Market Street in the historic city centre, nor to Fitzroy Street and Burleigh Street in the Grafton Quarter.

Ian Sandison says that providing a better Mill Road in a single-street solution is unequal. In what way is this so? In a densely populated area with significant numbers of multi-occupancy homes, with many householders that use bikes and foot as their primary means of travel, in a city with relatively low ownership of cars, why shouldn’t priority be given to the Mill Road area to become the first low traffic neighbourhood?

Paul Lythgoe, Mill Road 4 People

Moreover, the extent to which motor-traffic is displaced onto other roads when a road is restricted and the degree to which that motor-traffic ‘evaporates’ (ie vehicular journeys are no longer made) is a moot point. Fortunately there is  Cambridge City Smart Sensor Traffic Count open data which monitors this.

Image as caption
Weekly motor vehicle volumes on Mill Road, Coldhams Lane and Cherry Hinton Road,
from June 2019 to October 2021. Click here to view a larger version, in a new tab.

Counterintuitively, the evidence is clear – the 2019 bridge closure for railway works and the 2020-21 bridge restrictions had no sustained impact on traffic levels on Coldham’s Lane and Cherry Hinton Road. Read more, here – traffic displacement: myth or reality?

Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


But hasn’t Mill Road ‘always been an arterial route’?

No. Despite what is alleged on some social media, Mill Road has not ‘always been an arterial route’, neither is it designated as a primary or secondary distributor road. Look closely at this video of a present-day OpenStreetMap fading to an Ordnance Survey 1″ 7th series map. Check the east end of Mill Road before the construction of Barnwell Road.

Video created from National Library of Scotland’s Explore Georeferenced Maps page.
The link should allow you to drag the slider (bottom left) to explore the maps yourself.

The use of roads in shopping and residential areas is always evolving. In the 1960s, the A10, A45 and A604 ran through central Cambridge, with Regent Street, St Andrew’s Street, Sidney Street, Bridge Street, Magdalene Street, St John’s Street, Trinity Street, King’s Parade and Trumpington Street all designated as trunk roads.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership are currently reviewing Cambridge’s ‘Road Network Hierarchy’ under which Mill Road would be designated a ‘Local Access Street’. Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


So, what makes Mill Road special, and different from other routes into the city?

Mill Road is very much a destination for people seeking to source specialist foods and to sample cuisine from around the globe. It has a higher proportion of independent shops, cafés & restaurants than any other Cambridge street.

Travel beyond Reality Checkpoint on Parkers Piece and you might see that Mill Road is a fairly unique place in Cambridge. There is a vibrant street life from end to end with independent cafés, restaurants, and shops. The bridge restriction made the road a safer place to be for all. Active travel to destinations within Mill Road and as a through route to the city was encouraged. Mill Road 4 People have surveyed and talked to local residents and visitors.  We know how it was changing people’s lives and helping them choose active modes of transport. 

Paul Lythgoe, Mill Road 4 People

Mill Road is also the proud home of the beautiful Cambridge Central Mosque, its advanced eco-design giving it a near-zero carbon footprint. It will soon be home (again) to a carved stone archway. Saved after it was removed from a former Hindu temple, it could be installed in the garden of Ditchburn Place, a sheltered housing community, and former maternity hospital, subject to planning approval. Read more here: Hindu temple arch looks set for Cambridge garden home By Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent, 25 February 2022.

We have, indeed, previously asked is Mill Road – the high street of a small town within Cambridge city?

However, not only is Mill Road a high street it is also a residential street with over 200 front doors opening onto the street behind which there live over 1,000 residents.

Nearly all premises along Mill Road are residential in whole, or in part, with over a mile of front doors and front windows situated less than 5 metres from the carriageway. This distinguishes Mill Road from all other approaches to the city centre from whatever direction, particularly roads which were developed later, with wider footways, verges and, in many cases, long front gardens separating most residential accommodation from the carriageway.

This makes residents particularly vulnerable to illnesses caused by pollution and to road accidents. Stepping outside their homes can cause injury, as mounting pavements is deemed to be the acceptable norm by passing motorists and by some cyclists avoiding the heavy motor traffic.

We support active travel initiatives across the city but we say that we have been endlessly consulted and promised change – specifically in Mill Road which is always kicked down the road in favour of a ‘holistic’ approach – which may or may not be delivered.

It is absolutely time that something is done and done now to make Mill Road a safer and better place. It will be an exemplar for other initiatives across the city, and following the link through to the north of the city along the Chisholm Trail to Mill Road it will be easily and quickly accessible to so many more. 

Paul Lythgoe, Mill Road 4 People

What Lythgoe asserts about Mill Road waiting, and waiting is amply illustrated by this 1973 clipping from the Cambridge Evening News. Presumably, this being before 1974’s local government reorganisation into two-tier councils, the report will have been on the priorities of the Highways Committee of the Borough of Cambridge.
Perhaps Cambridge Town Owl, Antony Carpen, can confirm or correct this.

Image is of a clipping from Cambridge News, 1973, detailing the highway priorities of Cambridge City Council.

Priorities

They include:

Preparatory work on the Arbury estate peripheral road, the dualling of the south end of East Road and the Napier Street link between East Road and Newmarket Road.
The expansion of car parking with reviews of parking meter charges and policies.
Pedestrianisation in the city centre.
A study into the possible reversal of the City centre one-way system. with some priority facilities for cyclists and buses“
A feasibility study of the “railway route.”
Ii" Ejahvestig‘atiod into the t‘Siossi-
Investigation into the possibility of traffic lights at Mitcham’s Corner, and a Cherry Hinton by-pass.
A study into the possible widening of city centre footpaths and the improvement of cycle bridges over the River Cam at Chesterton.
Closure of Mill Road to all traffic except buses, cycles and service vehicles.
A review of private off-street parking facilities.

Mill Road welcomes destination traffic, by foot, cycle, bus and motor vehicle. Motor traffic needs to be facilitated by clear signage to existing parking facilities, and by more on-street (but off-pavement) short-term parking.

Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


Will the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s Cambridge Road Network Hierarchy Review solve the problem?

The two maps, below illustrate the basic idea. If they alternate too quickly, press the pause button.

This work forms a key component of the City Access work to achieve City Deal objectives of improving public transport and active travel opportunities, reducing traffic and vehicle emissions, and contributing to the net-zero agenda. A review of the road network hierarchy would be the subject of a public consultation in summer 2022.

Cambridge Road Network Hierarchy Review
Report to Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly 17th February 2022

For those who’d like to read the full detail of the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s draft network hierarchy, the papers, from the Thursday 17th February 2022 Joint Assembly agenda pack, can be viewed/downloaded in full, here (pp 36-53).

For the rest of us, an excellent summary –Biggest shake-up of Cambridge road network for 40 years, by Gemma Gardner, Cambridge Independent, may be read here.

Will this affect Mill Road?

Certainly, however, there does not, as yet, appear to be a timescale on implementation.

Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


Road safety – the Police and Crime Commissioner’s view.

Darryl Preston, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is concerned that the road hierarchy review is insufficiently focussed on road safety.

I would like to highlight an important issue for consideration when discussing proposals for your Cambridge Road Network Hierarchy Review on 17th February.

As you will be aware, road safety is a key theme in my Police and Crime Plan. As a former police officer, I personally dealt with far too many serious injuries and fatal incidents and saw for myself the devastation these avoidable incidents can have on loved ones.

For the 3 years pre-pandemic, there were an average 69 Killed or Seriously injured (KSI) casualties in Cambridge city every year – 62% of these were cyclists and a further 16% pedestrians, making nearly 4/5 of all KSI casualties in the city pedestrians or cyclists.

I am sure you are all committed, as I am, to supporting the county’s Vision Zero Strategy to eliminate road deaths. I would therefore urge you to consider making road safety a more explicit priority or objective within the core of the Review document. I appreciate that there is some reference to it already and a number of measures already included could be interpreted as contributing to safer roads. However, given that this is such a serious issue, I strongly believe that any strategy or policy documents relating to our roads should explicitly include ‘safer roads’ as a priority. With that comes an ability to deliver outcome metrics based on safety which in turn can look at contributory funding. 

I urge you to take my recommendation forward and would welcome further discussion.

Darryl Preston, Police and Crime Commissioner
Email to Greater Cambridge Partnership members, ahead of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly Thursday 17th February 2022
And Mill Road’s safety…

It is worth noting that, following a Freedom of Information request, data from Cambridgeshire Police named Mill Road as the worst-affected single road for injuries over the past three years. Read more: Mill Road named most dangerous road in Cambridge by Krystian Schneyder, Varsity, Monday January 31 2022.

Further detail on Mill Road’s collisions, using Data from DfT/police STATS19, from 1999-2020, is mapped in this link. (Thanks to Martin L-S.)

Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


Will the ‘Cambridge Eastern Access Project’ resolve matters for Mill Road?

The project will, will include Mill Road, but it will be a be a long time coming.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership held an eight-week public consultation on the Cambridge Eastern Access Project, which closed to comments on 18th December 2020. On 1st July 2021 the Executive Board approved the Strategic Outline Business Case that confirmed there is a strategic case – and public support – for improvements to public transport, cycling and walking for those travelling into Cambridge from the east. The Thursday 17th February 2022 Joint Assembly agenda pack, shows this project to be in the ‘Early Design’ stage, with a ‘Forecast Completion Date’ of 2027. Reference here (p93).

Should Mill Road wait?

Back to related issues index.


Why consult on Mill Road, alone?

One argument that is often put forward against traffic restrictions on Mill Road is that it should be done in the context of city-wide traffic reduction measures.

On the face of it, this is a seductive argument – who wouldn’t want to see lower traffic and pollution over the whole of the city? But in our view, that goal is totally compatible with starting work on Mill Road at the earliest possible opportunity.

Liz Walter, Mill Road 4 People, Saturday 19th February 2022

Liz, posting on behalf of Mill Road 4 People, cites speeding motor-vehicles, dangerous overtaking, pavement parking and air pollution levels regularly exceeding WHO guidelines, amongst other reasons why Mill Road can’t wait. See: Why Mill Road can’t wait for a city-wide plan

Councillor Neil Shailer, Romsey County Division, Labour, speaking at the Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly on 17th February 2022 argued that Traffic Regulation Orders for Mill Road need to be prioritised within the context of city access, as accident statistics confirm that Mill Road is the most dangerous road in the city.

The special characteristics of Mill Road noted above suggest that Mill Road should be prioritised as this has the potential to improve the well-being of the greatest number of people.  It would be impractical to deal with all of the city’s traffic and transport problems on a ‘big-bang’ citywide basis at exactly the same time as imposing all mooted measures across the city simultaneously would cause chaos. They need to be phased.

Back to related issues index.


Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s view

Camcycle’s position is that motor-traffic on Mill Road needs to be substantially reduced and that this is best achieved through a modal filter to prevent through motor-traffic while allowing cycling and walking journeys the full length of the road. It should be possible to exempt some motor vehicles such as those required for time-critical deliveries or to transport disabled people.

Camcycle’s vision for Mill Road sets out how Mill Road could be improved, following the reduction of traffic, to create a vibrant place for people where community and local business can thrive. Their summary can be read here: Camcycle guide to the Mill Road consultation – Spring 2022.

Back to related issues index.


Have your say on improving Mill Road

The consultation closes at midday on Monday 21st March 2022.

For fuller details on this consultation, public meetings, in-person drop-ins and a Sunday (on-line) workshop, see our earlier blogpost – Mill Road Consultations (again).

Back to related issues index.


Like most of Mill Road Bridges’ blogposts this post is open to (polite) comments, relating to this post or to our earlier post – Mill Road Consultations (again).

Pavements for Pedestrians

Pavement parking along Mill Road is a menace, especially to people with disabilities (physical, visual, auditory or hidden) and to young children. It is also wrecking Mill Road’s pavements, which were not designed to carry vehicular traffic.

Graphic, titled "Reclaim the Pavements, Mill Road," of child pedestrians including wheelchair user, holding signs prohibiting cycles and pavement parking and warning of pedestrians.

Many drivers feel entitled to park on Mill Road’s pavements. Indeed many drive aggressively onto the footway, honking their horn for you to move out of the way.


But isn’t it illegal?

At the present time, outside of Greater London, parking on the footway is not unlawful. But driving on the pavement is. Spotted the obvious logical flaw? Let’s see what the Highway Code says…

You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs. [Highway Code, updated 29th January 2022, Rule 224]

Only pedestrians may use the pavement. Pedestrians include wheelchair and mobility scooter users. [Highway Code, updated 29th January 2022, Rule H2]

‘MUST NOT, should not’… What’s the difference?

Many Highway Code rules are legal requirements, identified by the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’. Other Highway Code rules (with advisory wording such as ‘should/should not’ or ‘do/do not’) may be used in evidence, in court. See Wording of The Highway Code. You can view/download the latest update of the Highway Code (PDF, free) here.


It’s not just Mill Road, though is it?

Absolutely. Take a look around the corner along East Road. Then check out the verges of Barnwell Road and Whitehill Road when Cambridge United are playing at the Abbey Stadium. As well as commenting below, why not get in touch with Living Streets Cambridge who are working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and CamSight to tackle the problem of pavement parking in Cambridge. Check out their rogues’ gallery and/or email the group.


Can’t the police do anything?

Pavement parking, in Cambridge, is not unlawful, and Cambridgeshire Constabulary have suffered over a decade of financial cutbacks.

But Cambridgeshire County Council have had powers to deal with this for over eleven years.

What? Eleven years of council inaction! Really?

Councils with civil parking enforcement powers (including Cambridgeshire County Council) were given ‘special authorisation’ in February 2011 by the (then) Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (DfT), Norman Baker, to prohibit parking on footways and verges, wherever they considered it necessary. This would be through a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) or Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO).

Read/download a PDF of Norman Baker’s original letter here. A text-only PDF is available here.


So why have Cambridgeshire County Council done nothing*?

It may be political. The civil parking enforcement zone only applies within the Cambridge City Council boundary, although Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) ‘tickets’ are issued by Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) ‘traffic wardens’ contracted to the County Council. Until the change in control at the May 2021 elections, no senior County Council committee member sat for any Cambridge County Division.

Now, however, Councillor Gerri Bird (Chesterton Division) is Vice-Chair of the County’s Highways and Transport Committee. Perhaps she, and our local county councillors could bring about some welcome changes.

(*But see the discussion in our comments section about whether these powers may have been used on Fendon Road and Mowbray Road.)

So, if the County Council do make regulations will drivers just ignore them?

They might. But it would cost them – £70 for a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). And the regulations wouldn’t be limited to places with yellow ‘no waiting’ lines. Currently, Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) need to wait to see why a vehicle is waiting (eg lawful loading/unloading or unlawful ‘Just popping into the shop’ waiting). Drivers know that they can come out of a shop with something heavy and get away with this misuse of pavements, time and time again.

However, where a pavement parking prohibition is in place, it is breached the instant a vehicle mounts the footway, for whatever reason. CEOs could issue an immediate PCN.


What about Romsey side-streets where the pavement is the only place to park?

In London, parking is allowed on the pavement where local boroughs have set out marked bays half-on, half-off the pavement and put up signs, just like there are in Mill Road’s Romsey Town. A ban on pavement (and verge) parking elsewhere wouldn’t affect Romsey side-streets.


And how much more council tax would we have to pay?

Potentially nothing. Zero. Nil. Zilch. There should be no ongoing cost to council tax payers. Enforcement should be self-financing as penalty charge revenue would help to pay the salaries of the existing enforcement officers.


How can we make our feelings known?

Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can contribute to our comments section at the foot of this blogpost.

If you feel strongly about this issue, why not send a polite email to Councillor Neil Shailer (Romsey) and Councillor Richard Howitt (Petersfield) with Councillor Peter McDonald Councillor (Chair, Highways & Transportation Committee) and Gerri Bird (Vice-Chair) copied in? Click here to open an email to them.

If you don’t live in the Mill Road area you can find the county councillor for your division here.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership has launched (Monday 21st February 2022) a period of public engagement on parking issues in Cambridge. The engagement period will run for four weeks and will close at midday on Monday 21st March 2022. Although pavement parking is not on the list of the kind of on-street parking issues and problems the Greater Cambridge Partnership would like to hear about. They do point out that there may be other parking issues in your area that you may wish to comment on.

You can find the consultation site here – Parking issues in Cambridge: Spring 2022 – and add comments to their interactive map here – Parking 2022 – Discussion Map.


Where else has a scheme like this, outside London?

Peterborough, which is a Unitary Authority* brought in a city-wide Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting pavement parking in 2017. Although this is a Conservative-led authority, it was proposed by Labour councillors and gained multi-party support. The clever thing which they did was to bring in a overarching Traffic Regulation Order and leave implementation to be a matter for discussion where local communities, or the emergency services requested it, or it was otherwise seen as essential.

*A Unitary Authority means that Peterborough City Council have all of the responsibilities which, in Cambridge are split between Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.

Peterborough City Councillor Richard Ferris, Labour member for Park Ward, said:

“It’s unusual when you get cross-party support like we did at the meeting. It’s a massive issue in Park ward. It’s up there as one of the top half-a-dozen issues people contact me on.”

[Peterborough Today: Peterborough drivers face fines for parking on roadside verges or pavements]

More on Peterborough’s scheme…


Shouldn’t there be a national ban on pavement parking?

This was discussed by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee in September 2019. The Chair at that time, Lilian Greenwood MP, said:

“Pavement parking has a huge impact on people’s lives and their ability get around their communities. […] evidence to our inquiry revealed the impact on those with visual and mobility impairments and people with children.

“We are deeply concerned that the Government has failed to act on this issue, despite long-standing promises to do so. This is a thorny problem that may be difficult to resolve to the satisfaction of all, but the Government’s inaction has left communities blighted by unsightly and obstructive pavement parking and individuals afraid or unable to leave their homes or safely navigate the streets.”

House of Commons Transport Select Committee, September 2019.

Should Cambridgeshire County Council wait for a national ban? The DfT granted them their own powers – over a decade ago. What are they waiting for?

Time passes…

On 12th March 2020 it was announced: The Government is to run a consultation about a national ban on pavement parking following the Transport Committee’s 2019 influential inquiry and report. [parliament.uk]

The Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said:

“I am pleased the Government has taken on board the previous Committee’s concerns about the very real difficulties presented by pavement parking and our proposed solutions. […]

“However, we have to now deliver this change. The Government promised to look into the issue in 2015 but consultations, roundtable events and internal reviews failed to lead to any actions to improve the experience of the public. This Government has signalled an intent to finally deliver change. We now need a detailed timeframe from the Department for Transport to ensure this happens.

“In publishing today’s Response, we are putting the Government on notice that we will be monitoring progress carefully. We look forward to reviewing progress on each of the pledges and our Committee has committed to a further evidence session in 12 months’ time to drive real change.”

And here we are, two years on… So, where is the DfT’s Pavement Parking Ban? Nowhere to be seen. But there is no need to wait; the DfT granted Cambridgeshire County Council their own powers over a decade ago.


See also the earlier blogpost: Pavement Parking along Mill Road.


Would you like to walk along a vehicle-free pavement? Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can add your comments below.

And do consider checking out the Living Streets Cambridge website and/or emailing the group.

FotoDinkyMat Zapped by Aliens?

Following our earlier excitement at the mini photo-booth on Mill Road bridge and the community’s disappointment at reports that the photo-booth had been stolen, the community has rallied round. The Cambridge Independent asked for information…

… and Tara produced a poster.

Poster –Stolen: FotoDinkyMat
If found contact Cambridge Independent
Tara’s poster

Local artist Naomi Davies offered a print of her Dinky Doors painting as a reward for information leading to the safe return of the Mill Road PhotoDinkyMat.

Photo of Naomi Davies’ painting of Cambridge’s Dinky Doors
And Maurizio Dining offered free pizza

It seems, however, that all is not quite so simple…

Wreckage of the former booth has since been found on the pavement. When our web-editor visited today, he found a crime scene, where Dinky Constabulary’s DI Wallace and his colleague DDC* Gromit (both on secondment from Aardman Constabulary) were investigating.
* (Dog Detective Constable)

DDC Gromit (left) and DI Wallace at the crime scene
The same scene viewed from the Dinky Constabulary drone

DI Wallace and DDC Gromit refused to comment on speculation that the photo-booth had succumbed to alien attack. “We are keeping an open mind, and examining all of the evidence,” said DI Wallace, “however we regard the Melt-o 3000 as highly significant.”

A close-up view of the Melt-o 3000

Three teenagers who go by the collective name of ‘The Dolly Darlings’ were “shocked” to see the damage. “We were hoping to to get a set of photos for our PASS proof-of-age cards for when the pubs reopen, just in time for our 18th birthdays,” said Joanna Darling.

The Dolly Darlings. Left to right: Virginia, Veronica and Joanna

There are further reports on this mystery by Alya Zayed Senior reporter on the Cambridge News – New Dinky Door ‘crime scene’ appears in Cambridge after artwork stolen – and – By Alex Spencer of Cambridge Independent – Dinky Doors: the FotoDinkyMat has returned.

Investigations by Dinky Constabulary continue. Whilst there is a way to contribute financially to the work of Dinky Doors, here.

FotoDinkyMat comes to Mill Road Bridge

A mysterious new Dinky Door has arrived in Cambridge – a photo booth for tiny people. Read more on the Cambridge Independent website.

Mill Road bridge’s dinky door under investigation by K9
Three photos for 3p… if you’re small enough!
Photoshop processing department. Penny Plain: Tuppence Coloured
Essential maintenance: Wallace gives the booth a wipe down…
… whilst Gromit investigates the technical department.
Wallace prepares for his passport photo
Dinky Doors artwork stolen after just four days from Mill Road bridge in Cambridge

By Alex Spencer, in the Cambridge Independent, Friday 2nd April 2021 

Since the last update of this post, doubts have arisen about what really happened to the DinkyFotoMat. Read more: FotoDinkyMat Zapped by Aliens?

Winter Fair 2021…??

Announcing the 2021 Mill Road Winter Fair Annual General Meeting

This year’s Annual General Meeting will be held via Zoom on Tuesday 23 March at 7.30pm. Mill Road Winter Fair will be planning the 2021 Fair and exploring a range of exciting ideas for Mill Road Fringe events, which may take place during the summer months as the Covid restrictions lift.

This is the perfect time to join Mill Road Winter Fair’s team of volunteers and help shape the cultural life of Mill Road’s ‘Community of Communities’. Getting involved in the Fair is a great way to meet a fabulous bunch of people while also making a massive difference in our community.

Please email info@millroadwinterfair.org if you’d like to find out more and/or receive the Zoom link for the Annual General Meeting.

The 2020 Fair

In 2020, the Mill Road Winter Fair could not take place owing to Covid-19 restrictions. Instead, the first Online Fair featuring many of the local performers, artists, stalls and organisations who would have been there on the day, took place.

The Fair committee also coordinated an amazing community event to celebrate and showcase the identity and culture of Mill Road. Fun for all the family, the Mill Road Lantern Trail was funded by the charity, Love Mill Road.

Pavement Survey – Update

In December Living Streets Cambridge piloted a survey on the state of the pavements using nextdoor.co.uk for the Petersfield ward. This was also posted, here, on this website. In January 2021 the group has produced a pilot stage report (PDF), a brief snapshot of responses taken from 98 returns.

A second report exploring the findings from Phase 1 and 2 dated 11/03/2021 has now been released. It can be read/downloaded here.

The most striking finding is that only a very tiny minority of respondents responded positively to the question: Are you generally happy with your experience as a pedestrian in Cambridge?

Are you generally happy with your experience as a pedestrian in Cambridge?
Overall YES n= 14 (5.78%)
Overall NO n=153 (63.22%)
It depends n=76 (31.40%)

This clearly highlights pedestrians’ experience that many pavements are in a bad state of repair and frequently blocked for one reason or another.

Mill Road was reported for its narrow sections of pavement which made wheelchair and pushchair access dangerous and for the numbers of parked vehicles obstructing the pavement.

The survey is still open, until the end of March 2021. If you haven’t already taken part, you can do so through this link.

With the current focus on active travel, this state of neglect has come into sharper focus and suggests that continued targeting of limited funds on improving the city centre may not be the best way to address the needs of many of Cambridge’s residents.  This point has been made to the planners in respect of Making Spaces for People which, whilst it has an admirable focus on reducing pollution, concentrates almost entirely on the city centre. Living Streets Cambridge will continue to seek to represent pedestrians on other City and County Council fora relevant to their needs.

The intention, now, is to extend the survey to wider areas of the city and if anyone can help with doing that, through residents associations, social media or posting on notice boards like nextdoor.co.uk for other wards, Living Streets Cambridge would be very grateful for the help. For the present this is limited to City Council wards ( and County divisions within the city boundaries) as far as possible, though at a later stage it might be extended to surrounding areas.

Please email the Living Streets Cambridge group by clicking this link if you feel able to assist in any way.

It’s early days for the revived Living Streets Cambridge group and help of all kinds is needed. I hope this small start enables us to gain some momentum and work to stimulate improvement.

David Stoughton,
For Living Streets Cambridge


In many residential areas of the city the environment for pedestrians remains challenging due to a combination of high traffic levels, narrow pavements and poor maintenance.

As investment in road maintenance has fallen away, footways have become increasingly dilapidated and dangerous.  It will take a significant, concerted effort to get this put right. 

The Living Streets Cambridge group is determined to provide a voice and a campaigning platform for pedestrians in the city, an imperative that has increased in importance since the pandemic struck and ‘active travel’ has become a greater focus of policy.

Living Streets Cambridge

You can email the Living Streets Cambridge group by clicking this link, and/or sign up for local group news, here.


Living Streets is a UK Charity – Registered Charity Nº 1108448 (England & Wales) SC039808 (Scotland) – “for everyday walking”.

Kerb it

By Charlotte de Blois

As we negotiate recent changes to Mill Road it has become apparent that drivers subconsciously behave differently along different stretches of the road. Picture one shows how three car drivers chose to pavement-park opposite a build out.

While further down the road on a narrower stretch of the road, Picture Two, shows how a driver uses the build-out as protection for his parked car and helpfully stays on the road.

This allows pedestrians to use the narrow pavement unimpeded.  Thank you grey car driver.

Pavement Survey – Living Streets

Mill Road and its surrounding streets – like much of Cambridge – suffer from pavements which offer a poor environment for pedestrians, particularly parents with toddlers, and people with disabilities.

The Living Streets Cambridge group was set up to tackle Cambridge’s poorly-maintained pavements – pavements which are cracked and rutted, causing trip hazards and puddles to form, with poorly-sited street furniture adding to the pedestrian obstacle-course…

Rainwater conduit with eroded screed covering, uneven, subsided brick and flag paving, highway signage obstructions, 91 Mill Road CB1 2AW

Overgrown hedges create further obstacles as do wheelie-bins left permanently on the pavement. Living Streets Cambridge believe that these obstacles should be tackled, too.

Black, green and blue wheelie-bins and ‘side waste’ block a narrow pavement, off Mill Road. Photo taken two days before blue bin collection, nine days ahead of black bin collection and 15 days before green bin collection.

Too little action has been taken to address these issues, in part because no register exists to identify all of the problems and bring them to the attention of the highway authority (Cambridgeshire County Council) and City Council (responsible for refuse and recycling collections).

Unregulated pavement parking adds to the problem, blocking pavements and contributing to further cracking, rutting and subsidence, despite Cambridgeshire County Council being granted powers to tackle this nearly a decade ago. Read more about those powers here.

Little room for pedestrians, when this delivery-driver prioritises vehicular traffic. Note, too, the damage to the kerbs and paving-stones.

As a first step towards tackling these issues, Living Streets are conducting a short survey to identify where problems exist and catalogue them by type. The survey can be found here.

Readers can help Living Streets Cambridge by taking the time to complete the survey, giving as much detail about problems and locations as possible.

And please let friends, neighbours, and others who may be interested, know about the survey, by forwarding the link to the survey, or this blogpost to them.


Living Streets is a UK Charity – Registered Charity Nº 1108448 (England & Wales) SC039808 (Scotland) – “for everyday walking”.

We want a nation where walking is the natural choice for everyday local journeys.

Our mission is to achieve a better walking environment and inspire people to walk more.

Progress starts here: one street, one school, one step at a time. Read our three year strategy to find out more about our vision, mission and values.

Living Streets > About Us > Our organisation

Living Streets Cambridge add…

In many residential areas of the city the environment for pedestrians remains challenging due to a combination of high traffic levels, narrow pavements and poor maintenance.

As investment in road maintenance has fallen away, footways have become increasingly dilapidated and dangerous.  It will take a significant, concerted effort to get this put right. 

The Living Streets Cambridge group is determined to provide a voice and a campaigning platform for pedestrians in the city, an imperative that has increased in importance since the pandemic struck and ‘active travel’ has become a greater focus of policy.

Living Streets Cambridge

You can email the Living Streets Cambridge group by clicking this link, and/or sign up for local group news, here.

Mill Road Bridge Restrictions

What are the next steps? When will the scheme be reviewed?

Consultation

We invite comments on the closure of Mill Road Bridge to all vehicles except buses, cycles and pedestrians. Please send your comments by email to [redacted as the consultation is now closed – Web Editor]

The first six months of the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) are the consultation stage during which we record all feedback.

A survey runs between 12 noon on Monday 9 November until 23:59 on 24 December 2020 to offer an additional opportunity for people to have their say on the changes and their impact on Mill Road.

We will collate all feedback, whether from emails, letters or the survey and present it to the Highways and Transport Committee when they make their decision on whether to continue the trial, make the changes permanent or to re-open the bridge to motorists.

Mill Road Bridge trial road closure, Cambridgeshire County Council website

Note the closure date of the consultation; Christmas Eve. As Monday 28th is a public holiday; the earliest that all of the comments could begin to be considered and collated would be on Tuesday 29th December 2020.

Readers who have completed the survey themselves will note that there were quite a few sections with space for ‘free expression’ of ideas. These will take some time to assess and aggregate.

The Highways and Transport Committee will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday 19th January 2021 at 10:00. Click here for meeting details. There is no further information at the time of writing but, if readers keep returning to it, they will, eventually, find a full agenda pack for the meeting published in PDF format to read/download. In amongst that will be a summary of all of the feedback on the Mill Road scheme.

The full calendar of County Council meetings can be viewed here.

It will be quite a tight timescale for Cambridgeshire County Council’s officers to compile a report for the Highways and Transport Committee.

The full membership of the Highways and Transport Committee, including substitutes for those unable to attend, is here.

As for members of the public ‘attending’ (virtually)…

To help people follow the debates at Cambridgeshire County Council we are live web streaming on YouTube our Council meetings. You can also follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #CCCmtgs.

Council meetings Live Web Stream, Cambridgeshire County Council website

We hope this information is of help, to all of our readers and subscribers, whether for or against the scheme, or (like most people) wanting some limitations but not these exact ones.


This blogpost is open for (polite) comments.