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.


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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.

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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.


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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.


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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.


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Bridge closure protest

Mill Road Traders' Association protest poster
Click the banner to go to the comments section

Mill Road was brought to a standstill on Wednesday 24th June 2020 by a protest on Mill Road Bridge organised by the Mill Road Traders’ Association.

Tweeters, bloggers, vloggers, journalists were out in force.

Video from local independent vlogger, Mick Brown, aka Lord Drainlid

Cambridge News published an article by Local Democracy Reporter, Benjamin Hatton, Chants of ‘Don’t Kill Mill Road’ as major Cambridge route brought to a halt in bridge closure protest. (click through for full report, photos and video.)

Mill Road TV produced this slideshow.

Reporters from BBC Look East (West edition) and ITV News Anglia were in attendance. Both featured the demonstration on their respective evening’s bulletins. Unfortunately BBC Look East (west edition) is not archived on iPlayer. The coverage on ITV News Anglia is archived.

View the ITV News Anglia report here.
Protesters block bridge over council’s plans to close Cambridge road, including a video report by ITV Anglia’s Claire McGlasson. (This link will work for as long as this report is archived. We are unsure how long this will be.)

This and the BBC report are solely on the demo, whereas Jeremy Sallis, on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s ‘Brunchtime live’ had a range of interviews and opinions:

  • Katherine from Little Petra – in the news bulletin at 1hr 1min
  • Pamela Wesson from Fantasia – in the report feature at 1h 08min
  • An email from Sweet & Maurizio – following the above
  • Tom Holbrook from 5th Studio Architects – at 1hr 26min
  • Pamela (reprise clip) – in the news bulletin at 2hr 00min
  • Cambridgeshire County Councillor Linda Jones – following the above

(This programme was available for one month. It has now been deleted.)


Cllr Linda Jones and Fantasia’s Pamela Wesson discussed Mill Road bridge restrictions on Cambridge 105 FM.


While, over at the Cambridge Independent, Alex Spencer, published Mill Road protest hailed a ‘huge success’ with photos and Twitter videos from Local Democracy Reporter, Benjamin Hatton, and others.

Here are a selection of Ben’s tweets.

We also have this statement from Cllr Ian Bates

‘Receiving funding for more than 90 schemes to improve cycling and walking transport links across the county is good news for Cambridgeshire. it will allow people to get out and about during the pandemic while enabling them to stay safe and maintain social distancing.

“Just to be clear – Mill Road bridge will not be shut to all vehicles – it will remain open to buses as well as cyclists and pedestrians. The measures we are putting in place – such as wider footpaths – will allow for more pedestrian space, which will increase accessibility and is essential for people to adhere to social distancing as lockdown is gradually eased and our towns, villages and cities start to open up again.

‘The money for the scheme is part of the governments emergency active travel fund: and must be used within eight weeks. As we are in the middle ofa pandemic, we are working on these projects quickly.

However, these measures are only temporary and people will have the opportunity to feedback to us.

“We welcome all feedback from those afiected by the changes. including shop owners, local residents. cyclists and those that worship on Mill Road. it’s important also to note that the changes are being made under an Experimental Trafiic Regulation Order (ETRO). The use of an experimental order allows for the consultation to run alongside the implementation of the scheme and amendments can be made to the scheme during the life of the experiment.”

Cllr Ian Bates, Chairman of the Highways and Transport Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council

This post is nor open for comment. There is much more information on the associated post – Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure – and over 120 comments, in the comment section. You are welcome to add your (polite) comment, or reply to another commenter there. (It’s just housekeeping: it’s tidier if all the comments are in one place.


See also:


Wider footways, barriers and bridge restrictions

Index:

Temporary cycling and walking measures are being put in place across Cambridgeshire during the Coronavirus crisis to help people get out and socially distance during this pandemic.

One of the first schemes is Mill Road, Cambridge, where from Wednesday, 24th June work started to widen footways using temporary barriers. Where footpaths have been widened, the road will be narrowed and there will only be sufficient carriageway width to allow one vehicle past at a time, so give-way features will be introduced at each section of widened footway.

Mill Road Bridge has been closed to all vehicles except buses and cyclists, the closure will be enforced by signs and automatic number plate recognition cameras.

Many of Cambridgeshire County Council’s schemes are being authorised under Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (ETRO) which will be in place for 18 months.

The first six months of each ETRO will be a consultation period.

You can give feedback either via email at:
policyandregulation@cambridgeshire.gov.uk
or in writing to:
Policy and Regulation Team
Highways Depot
Stanton Way
HUNTINGDON
PE29 6PY

Pavement widening and the bridge closure could be made permanent. Alternatively, more permanent measures could be considered.


The information above is taken from the Cambridgeshire County Council’s press release, which you can read here: Cycling and walking support in midst of pandemic. The PDF of the full range of proposals discussed at the council’s Highways and Transport committee meeting on 16th June 2020 can be read/downloaded here. It should be noted that this scheme (and others throughout the county) are subject to Statutory Guidance from the DfT.

The official documentation can be read/downloaded here:

One rumour needs to be put to rest immediately. There is NO plan to make Mill Road a one-way road in whole or in part.
This idea was mooted at one point, but it was removed at the request of Mill Road’s county councillors – Linda Jones (Petersfield) and Noel Kavanagh (Romsey).

We were surprised that this was ever on the agenda as the Cambridgeshire County Council’s own paper Improving the local highway – Route management – Close road to through traffic says of one-way streets, inter alia:

If a road is currently a narrow two way street where motor vehicles need to slow down to pass each other, changing the road to a one way street will increase vehicle speeds. Vehicle drivers may also be tempted to drive faster because they do not expect any oncoming vehicles.

If motor vehicles speeds increase, this will reduce how safe the road is.

Improving the local highway – Route management – Close road to through traffic, Cambridgeshire County Council [Undated, accessed 21/06/2020]

We enquired as to where the idea was mooted…

It appears to be a hang-over from last summer’s gas-main works along Mill Road (simultaneous with the bridge works) when there was a suggestion that to ease the gas-main works there should be one-way traffic along the Petersfield (city end) section of Mill Road. This was dropped as likely to create more problems than it solved.

The question was asked, within county highways, whether this would be a useful element for the Covid-related Experimental Traffic Regulation Order.

Mill Road’s ‘Community of Communities’ have the two local Cambridgeshire County Councillors – Councillor Linda Jones, Petersfield, and Councillor Noel Kavanagh, Romsey – to thank for ‘having our backs’ on this, both insisting that bus service provision must be at the heart of any scheme for Mill Road.


Walkability, Rideability, Liveability…

Smarter Cambridge Transport have useful background information in this post – Reducing Traffic Congestion and Pollution in Urban Areas – from 12th December 2016.

Shopping and cycling – the evidence | Cycling Embassy of Great Britain also has a wealth of information. (Thanks to commenter ‘Wookey’ for this link. Read the full comment here.)

Living Streets published The pedestrian Pound The business case for better streets and places (PDF) in 2018. This was a update on the identically entitled The pedestrian pound The business case for better streets and places (PDF) commissioned from Just Economics five years earlier.

This report presents evidence that investment in better streets and places delivers quantifiable commercial returns. Businesses, residents, developers and visitors all benefit from investment in the public realm and walkability.

Promoting walking and cycling now underpins much national and local policy, with a strong evidence base showing the benefits for health, air quality and the wider environment. Active travel also complements efforts to revive high streets and create liveable, vibrant communities. Although walking and cycling infrastructure requires less comparative investment, it has generally been treated as the ‘poor relation’ of infrastructure spending and is still often an afterthought in urban planning. At a time when public resources are scarce, improvements to streets should be attractive to governments seeking high returns from public spending.

The business and commercial case for investing in walkability remains a challenging area within which to make robust claims about commercial returns. This is largely due to the absence of evaluations at the post-build or post-intervention stage. Five years on from the publication of The Pedestrian Pound hard, quantitative assessments remain very rare.

Does investment in the public realm and walkability create additional commercial benefits? There is a growing body of qualitative and case study evidence which, when evaluated alongside the available quantitative data, shows public realm investments deliver significant, cost-effective benefits to consumers and businesses.

‘The pedestrian Pound The business case for better streets and places’ (PDF) Living Streets, 2018

Whilst CityMetric adds a note of caution: Everyone loves pedestrianisation – but what if it made all retail districts look the same?


Camcycle are very much in favour…

There is an excellent question and answer explainer on the Cambridge Cycling Campaign website – County council approves bold plan to help more people cycle and walk safely during the pandemic recovery.


Extinction Rebellion add their views

Camcycle and Extinction Rebellion back Mill Road’s active travel changes – report in the Cambridge Independent, by Mike Scialom.

The plans include the closure of Mill Road Bridge to private motor vehicles, a step that many residents have requested for some time. Currently, it is impossible to socially distance while walking or cycling down the road, especially once on the bridge, yet doing so is crucial to containing the coronavirus pandemic. Lockdown cannot be eased safely without taking extra measures such as this.

Extinction Rebellion Cambridge (XRC) quoted in the Cambridge Independent

However, Mill Road Traders Association are far from happy…

Traders reacted with shock after a surprise decision by Cambridgeshire County Council that Mill Road bridge in Cambridge will close next week to all traffic except bikes and buses.

Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent

Read the full report – Traders alarmed by Mill Road bridge traffic plan – with quotes from Piero d’Angelico, Abdul Arain, and local county councillors, Linda Jones, and Noel Kavannagh, here.

And from the Cambridge news – Mill Road at war as bridge graffitied in car ban protest while others say yes to closure.

The Mill Road Traders’ Association does not, as yet, have campaigning posts, nor a petition on their website. We are in touch with the traders representatives, and will link to anything they publish.


The Mill Road Traders’ Association organised a protest, closing off Mill Road Bridge. Click through for links to full reports and videos.

Mill Road Traders' Association protest poster
Click the banner to go to reports and videos of the protest

The positioning of some barriers isn’t well-thought-out…

Annotated photo from Arjuna wholefoods co-operative

This has prompted us to publish a separate post – How is it working so far… – looking at barrier positioning, pavement safety and the problems on Mill Road Bridge. It is ironic that measures to increase space for pedestrians, leads to pavements being blocked by vehicles. This is, as another trader pointed out to us, “An accident waiting to happen.”

It is noteworthy, though, that Arjuna have long been pulling their vehicles onto the pavemen for loading/unloading. They have said that it “helps the traffic” Unfortunately it prioritise drivers of motor vehicles over pedestrians, including their own customers.

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 James Youd, Labour Organiser has started a petition to Cambridgeshire County Council, opposing the closure. Read more


How to help blue badge holders

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

Read the full article here.

We have received a long and detailed comment, from Margaret, which deserves to be widely read. Find it here in the comments section.


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.


Over Mill Road Bridge are in support…

For those who support the proposals, the Over Mill Road Bridge website – a campaigning organisation set up in 2018 by Romsey Labour Party – have posted County Council Proposes Covid-19 Safety Changes to Mill Road, in which they say:

Following our campaign to make Mill Road safer during the Covid-19 epidemic, we’re pleased to see Cambridgeshire County Council has now proposed a number of changes. These include the closure of Mill Road to most motor vehicles at the bridge.

Paul, Over Mill Road Bridge

There is also a form to ‘send a supportive message to the County Council’.


Need for signage to help traders…

Will Mill Road have clear signage at both ends? It is essential that Cambridgeshire County Council install something appropriate, like this…

We contacted our local Cambridgeshire County Councillors.

When the Mill Road Bridge was closed as a result of GoviaThameslink’s work, last summer, there was, at least initially, inadequate signage to inform vehicle drivers and others that all of Mill Road’s businesses were open, but the bridge was closed.

Members and officers worked hard to get GTR to comply, for which thanks is due.

With the Covid-related works about to commence, trust there will be no issues with signage this time, as it will be entirely under the Highway Authority’s remit. I attach a suggested sign, though I’ve no doubt that the county team, in consultation with Mill Road’s Traders, will be able to come up with an improved version.

Mill Road Bridges

I agree about the need for signage and I specifically raised the issue of the inadequacy of last summer’s Signage with Cambridgeshire County Council. They stated that under the current measures they can create specific signage and are not bound by the DfT handbook. Keep a watch on this and feedback concerns.

Councillor Linda Jones, Petersfield, Labour
Suggested signage:
MILL ROAD OPEN
SHOPS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
BRIDGE CLOSED
TO THROUGH TRAFFIC
(EXCEPT FOR BUSES AND CYCLES)

Do you have views about the measures which Cambridgeshire County Council are taking? Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can add your comments at the foot of this blogpost.

Mill Roaders’ own ways of expressing their views…

Slogans have been sprayed on the carriageway. Whilst the slogans are a little cryptic, they would appear to express opposition to the plan to limit the bridge to cyclists, pedestrians and buses.

This slogan has appeared on the Petersfield (city) side…
… Whilst this is on the Romsey side.
And, this being Mill Road there are a variety of viewpoints…
This slogan, on the Petersfield side, has appeared on the reverse of the highways sign, below…

There is no doubt that this graffitist is in favour of restricting traffic over the bridge. As is this one, on the Romsey side…

On the front…
… and on the rear.
And on Ditchburn Place railings.

Cambridge Independent have a report on the on-road graffiti – Mill Road spray painted with protest messages – though Alex Spencer seems to have missed the hand-drawn and hand-written graffiti in support of the Cambridgeshire County Council plans. We have contacted Alex to let him know. (And, no, neither the on-road nor the on-sign graffiti were from our organisation, nor the website manager in a personal capacity.)

Freddie Lynne of Cambridge News produced this road-up of views – Mill Road at war as bridge graffitied in car ban protest while others say yes to closure


Ill thought-out?

Cambridge’s MP Daniel Zeichner is reported as calling the scheme “ill thought-out” and condemning the county council for failing to consult the public beforehand.

I know that the county council are keen to spend the money they have been given by government but a rush-job is not going to give us the best outcome.

We need a scheme that works for everyone and which respects the unique character of Mill Road. Mill Road will not be the same if traders are pushed out of the city and we lose independent shops that have been hit with one crisis after another.

Daniel Zeichner MP quoted by Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent

The money is part of the government’s ‘emergency active travel fund’, and must be used within eight weeks. As we are in the middle of a pandemic, we are working on these projects quickly and closely with the city and district councils. However, these measures are only temporary and people will have the opportunity to feedback to us. We will listen to all feedback, including that from shop owners, local residents, cyclists and those that worship on Mill Road.

Cllr Ian Bates, Chairman of the Highways and Transport Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, quoted by Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent

Read Alex’s full report – Mill Road bridge closure ‘ill thought-out’ says Cambridge MP.

There has been much comment, recently, in national news media, of central government decisions made ‘on the hoof’ and drafted ‘on the back of a fag-packet’.

To be fair, safeguarding measures which would not be delivered until (say) December after prolonged consultation would be about as much use as a chocolate teapot. (Other metaphors are available, if you area on a low-carb, low sugar diet.)

It is also worth noting that local councils (of whatever political complexion) frequently complain of initiative-itis from central government (of whatever political complexion) of inadequate funding and inadequate revenue-raising powers.


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


Protecting Pedestrian Space

Our website manager adds, in a personal view…

Whilst the proposals to allow more pedestrian space are welcome, there appears to have been no mention of protecting pedestrian space in Mill Road, East Road, nor elsewhere.

Why does no Experimental Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting pavement parking appear to be under consideration?

Pavement parking is a menace in ‘normal’ times – particularly, but not exclusively, to people with disabilities, physical, visual, auditory or hidden, to young children, and it is wrecking Mill Road’s pavements, which were not designed to carry vehicular traffic. There is, indeed, aggressive driving onto the footway.

An Experimental Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting pavement parking would help pedestrians keep their distance during this pandemic. It would also give lasting benefit to residents and traders.

And Cambridgeshire County Council have had powers to deal with this for over nine years.

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, Norman Baker, to prohibit parking on footways and verges, wherever they considered it necessary. This would be through a traffic regulation order (TRO, or ETRO).

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

There would be no ongoing cost to council tax payers.

Enforcement would be self-financing as penalty charge revenue would help to pay the salaries of the existing enforcement officers.

Currently, enforcement officers need to wait to investigate the reasons why a vehicle is waiting (eg lawful loading/unloading or unlawful ‘Just popping into the shop’ waiting). Drivers know that they can come out our the shop or take-away say, “Sorry, I’m just going,” and get away with this misuse of pavements, time and time again.

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?

However, where a pavement parking prohibition is in place, it is breached the instant a vehicle mounts the footway, for whatever reason. Enforcement officers could issue an immediate Penalty Charge Notice.

It is my belief that Cambridgeshire County Council should introduce an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting pavement parking along the length of Mill Road, where the footways are subjected to such abuse, and on East Road (which is particularly prevalent around the burger outlet).

There may well be other areas around Cambridge where similar ETROs would be of benefit.


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 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…


Perhaps Cambridgeshire County Council are waiting for central government to introduce a national ban throughout England (save for permitted exceptions, such as in various Romsey side-streets). Despite having their own powers.


The House of Commons Transport Select Committee discussed this 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.”

Read more about the September 2019 discussions on parliament.uk.

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


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.”


But Cambridgeshire County Council has had powers to prohibit this menace since February 2011. What are we waiting for?


Do you have views about the measures which Cambridgeshire County Council are taking? 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.


See also: