Passing traffic…

Local Tweeters have reminded the community of what might have been, for the Mill Road area and Cambridge, more generally.

Mill Road Lives

By Dave Baigent, City Councillor for Romsey

The last few days has seen more devastating news for people in the retail sector. More shops are closing in the city centre and this means hundreds, if not thousands of people are losing their jobs. Debenhams is perhaps our biggest casualty so far and these closures point to how much the lack of footfall in the city impacts on the retail market as people work from home. As Covid-19 ends, it is unlikely that working from home will stop. More likely that people will commute some days and work from home on others. The world has changed and this provides a huge opportunity for the traders locally.

There are around 20,000 residents in Romsey, Petersfield and Coleridge who live within a short distance of their local shops. There are over 54 traders on Mill Road who sell food to eat on their premises. As the risk from Covid-19 recedes the opportunity exists for them to attract people who work from home to venture out for a break. The provision shops on our road can also reach out to capture this new market. So too can the hairdressers. At the same time other shops can benefit from this passing trade.

From my position on the Greater Cambridge Partnership, I am able to confirm that Mill Road will soon be a destination highlighted for visitors who arrive at the station: a through route on foot to the city. Traders can react to this and encourage these visitors; it may even be possible to make Mill Road a destination in its own right for visitors to our city. This could also add to the growing night time economy on our road.

Three new shops have opened in as many weeks on Mill Road. Romsey now has a flower shop that deliver flowers by cycle. A baker that sells ‘home-made’ bread and cakes. And yesterday an organic supermarket for food and drinks opened. These are entirely new ventures, and these new traders can obviously see a future in opening here.

Harvest organic supermarket, Romsey Broadway, Mill Road [Photo: Dave Baigent]

There has always been a churn in the shops on Mill Road and, in some ways, this is part of its character as Mill Road adapted to local need. Change, too, is offered by the restrictions on the bridge. Pollution has fallen through the floor, the noise has reduced and it is now so safe that you see parents with their young children cycling over the bridge. Some cafés have extended their services by providing some tables on their shopfront.

This month you have the opportunity to comment on the restriction on the bridge in the County Council’s consultation. A positive outcome will result in the restriction being extended. Then local groups and councillors will be able to negotiate further improvements. At the top of my list it to find a way to support blue badge holders and a close second is to get the plastic bollards taken away, pavements to be widened and for the greening of our road by the provision of raised flower beds similar to those we provided outside the Co-op.

Click the image to read the blogpost referred to, below.

To help people consider the advantages offered by continued ‘restriction’, Over Mill Road Bridge [A separate site with no connection to Mill Road Bridges _Ed] has provided a list of some of the pluses and some comment that you may wish to use if you have yet to fill in the consultation. Why not look at them, here, and see if there are any ideas that you may wish to use?

Take care as Covid-19 is likely to remain a real threat for some time. At the same think about how the world has now changed and how you may contribute to the way our community develops.

Thanks for reading this. If you have any questions then please email me at dave.baigent@councillor.online.


Mill Road Bridges Web-Editor adds…

You can participate in the Mill Road Consultation, online, through clicking this link.

If you, or someone you know, would like a paper copy of the Cambridgeshire County Council consultation document telephone 0345 0455212 to have paper copies posted to you.

Survey participants often complain that the questions asked do not enable them to fully express their views. If you feel that way, you could set your views out clearly in an email to policyandregulation@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

Once again, for those without an internet connection or email account, you can communicate in the traditional way, by writing to:
Policy and Regulation Team
Highways Depot
Stanton Way
HUNTINGDON
PE29 6PY

Mark your letter “Mill Road railway bridge ETRO consultation.”


Readers may also be interested in these items:

Let Mill Road Live

By Francis, a Petersfield resident

All agree that traffic fumes are detrimental to the health and wellbeing of human beings. We residents of Mill Road have found that our health has been impacted by increasing levels of pollution in recent years but it has improved as the volume of traffic was reduced in lockdown. Many Mill Road shops have had their stock rooms converted into flats which means they cannot keep as much stock on their premises as they formerly did and the need for frequent deliveries becomes important – in some cases the decision to convert was made by traders and not landlords. In other cases traders have had to cope with the ill judgement of landlords.

Image of car pumping out carbon dioxide, particulate pollution and oxides of nitrogen, with slogan "More pollution? No solution!"

Our traders are important to our road. We value them and they should welcome measures which benefit their resident neighbours and customers. They should support safe, non-polluted, traffic-free pavements. Excellent bus services and bridge-access rights to those who genuinely need access; Blue-badge holders for example and traders whose warehouses are over the bridge; possibly taxis.

For the good of our community let us say ‘No to accidents caused by vehicles mounting pavements. No to poisonous air. No to heavy-plant and transport-lorries using Mill Road as a rat-run between Bedford and Suffolk’.

Yes to deliveries for local traders, Yes to cleaner air, Yes to local shops for locals, Yes to the right to walk (or use one’s wheel-chair) on the pavement without fear of being knocked down. Yes to parking bays.

If these are your priorities you need to make your voice heard.


Web editor adds:
If you are a Mill Road area resident, a regular user of Mill Road’s shops, a trader, someone who delivers to shops, a taxi/hire car driver…
Whatever your view, do make it known.

Depending who you listen to, this scheme:

  1. has made it safer to cycle to local shops and for pupils heading to and from local schools ;
  2. will wreck Mill Road’s businesses;
  3. has improved air quality, and made the road safer;
  4. has generated more traffic and longer journeys avoiding the bridge;
  5. will help create a much improved ambience to Mill Road, giving a much-needed boost to local businesses.

You can participate in the Mill Road Consultation, online, through clicking this link.

If you, or someone you know, would like a paper copy of the Cambridgeshire County Council consultation document telephone 0345 0455212 to have paper copies posted to you.

Survey participants often complain that the questions asked do not enable them to fully express their views. If you feel that way, you could set your views out clearly in an email to policyandregulation@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

Once again, for those without an internet connection or email account, you can communicate in the traditional way, by writing to:
Policy and Regulation Team
Highways Depot
Stanton Way
HUNTINGDON
PE29 6PY

Mark your letter “Mill Road railway bridge ETRO consultation.”

See also our earlier post National Pavement Parking Ban?

National Pavement Parking Ban?

Government Consultation – Have Your Say

Mill Road Bridges welcomes this consultation, which follows years of campaigning, nationally and locally. Parliamentarians of all parties, on the Transport Committee, including Cambridge’s MP, Daniel Zeichner, have been looking at this problem for some time. This could herald major improvements to shopping along Mill Road.

Now you can have your say in HM Government’s consultation on dealing with pavement parking, run by the Department for Transport (DfT).

We are not the only group in Cambridge to welcome this consultation. Cambridge Cycling Campaign (CamCycle) posted…

We very much welcome the government’s consultation on dealing with pavement parking. This is the culmination of many years of campaigning by national transport groups and disability groups, as well as local campaigning by us and others.

Parking of cars on pavements is a scourge which can be seen all around the city. It makes it difficult for people walking, using buggies, using wheelchairs and mobility scooters, and people with visual impairments. It damages pavements, and in general treats other road users with a lack of courtesy. It causes injuries and deaths of people walking, particularly children, as a result of drivers trying to park their cars on the pavement.

CamCycle:  Pavement parking needs to stop – and government is finally consulting on it

Many national and regional newspapers carried this Press Association report, pointing out…

Disabled people and parents are particularly affected by parked cars blocking their way

Recent research from charity Guide Dogs indicated that 32% of people with visual impairments and 48% of wheelchair users are less keen to go out on their own because of antisocial pavement parking.

PA Media in The Guardian (Click to read the full article, on the Guardian website.)
Taxi on Mill Road pavement
Taxi on Mill Road pavement

New research by Guide Dogs shows the wide variety of people affected by pavement parking, and the everyday impact it has on their lives. Nine in ten disabled people, including those with sight loss, mobility scooter users, and parents or carers with children said they had been affected by pavement parking. 

Guide Dogs (Read their full blogpost here.)

Read/download Guide Dogs’ full report Blocked in: the impact of pavement parking – February 2020 (PDF) here.


How did it get like this?

Many towns and cities were not designed to accommodate today’s high traffic levels; and at some locations, especially in residential areas with narrow roads and no driveways, the pavement is the only place to park without obstructing the carriageway. However, irrespective of whether pavement parking is deemed necessary, there are inherent dangers for all pedestrians; being forced onto the carriageway and into the flow of traffic. This is particularly difficult for people with sight or mobility impairments, and those with prams or buggies. While resulting damage to the pavement and verges is uppermost, a trip hazard, maintenance and personal injury claims are also a cost to local authorities.

Dft: Pavement parking – Options for Change

But Mill Road’s pavements are wide, in places…

Whilst some sections of Mill Road’s pavements look wide, a large part of what you think is the pavement may be the shops’ forecourt, which they can use for outdoor stalls, seating or displays.

Businesses are allowed to use the forecourt area for sales, displays or seating

When cars, vans and lorries pull onto the pavement, it leaves little room for people to walk past. It’s even harder if you’re pushing a child’s buggy, or using a wheelchair. And should you have to pull your toddler out of the way of somebody’s car?


But isn’t pavement parking already illegal?

Since 1974, parking on pavements, with certain exceptions, has been prohibited in Greater London… [with] Exemptions at specific locations … indicated by traffic signs… The reverse applies elsewhere in England, where parking on pavements and verges is permitted unless specifically prohibited by a … Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). The DfT is currently … looking at how … to make TROs easier to implement, including for pavement parking.

Dft: Pavement parking – Options for Change

What about ‘obstructing the highway’?

The offence of unnecessary obstruction of the highway, which includes the road as well as the pavement … allow[s] proceedings to be brought by the police … where parking on the pavement, in such a way as to cause obstruction, is … avoidable.

Dft: Pavement parking – Options for Change

Understandably, CamCycle complain that “The police have failed to take action to address pavement parking,” however, as has been pointed out elsewhere on this website

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).

Protecting Pedestrian Space on Mill-Road.com (Click to read the full opinion-piece.)

Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 allows most types of parking contraventions to be enforced by local authorities [in our case Cambridgeshire County Council – Ed] as a civil matter, instead of as a criminal matter by the police. enforcement ceases to be the responsibility of the police and becomes the responsibility of the local authority…

Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs)… place Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) on offending vehicles [and] the local authority retains the proceeds from the penalty charges, which are used to finance the enforcement…* Any surpluses must be used for prescribed purposes only.

Dft: Pavement parking – Options for Change

* This means that enforcement would not increase council tax, and may even help fill a few of our notorious potholes.


What are the options?

The DfT outlines three options:

  1. rely on improvements to the existing TRO system
  2. allow local authorities to enforce ‘Unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’
  3. a national pavement parking prohibition

Read what the DfT says about these options, in full, here.

Which option is best?

  1. ❌ Cambridgeshire County Council would be under no obligation to do anything. The County have had powers to use TROs to deal with pavement parking for over nine years – powers they have not used, despite there being no cost to council tax payers. Option 1 would, effectively, mean no change to having to dodge cars, taxis, vans and lorries on Mill Road’s pavements.
  2. ❌ The same issues apply. Option 2 is simply an extension to the powers which Cambridgeshire County Council have been ignoring for nearly a decade. Would anything change?
  3. ✅ The effect of a national pavement parking prohibition would be to reverse the current situation. Cambridgeshire County Council would be obliged to enforce the ban, and would also have to decide where to allow pavement parking. (And, if drivers ignore the ban, the PCN revenue may even help to fill a few potholes.)

We can see why CamCycle write…

We encourage residents to respond positively to the government’s consultation and to support option 3 … In the meanwhile, we continue to ask why the police are not doing more to keep pavements clear for pedestrians.

CamCycle

But what about Romsey’s side streets?

Nothing would change about the parking arrangements along the narrow sections of (eg) Cockburn Street, Thoday Street and Catharine Street, unless residents asked for change.

Local authorities would be expected to decide where pavement parking remained necessary and to introduce the necessary exemptions and to place traffic signs and bay markings to indicate where pavement parking is permitted. The bay could be placed completely on the pavement where there is sufficient width, or part on / part off.

Dft: Pavement parking – Options for Change

What would change, is that it would become unlawful to pull any vehicle onto any of Mill Road’s pavements – and the same across the whole of Cambridge – except for specific exemptions. These would include:

  • fire brigade purposes
  • police purposes
  • ambulance purposes
  • delivery, collection, loading or unloading of goods to, or from any premises, in the course of business; where this cannot reasonably be carried out without the vehicle being parked on a pavement

Read the full list of exemptions on the DfT’s Pavement parking: options for change webpage, here.


Now complete your response

You can:
Respond online here
or
download a response form to email to Pavement.parking@dft.gov.uk
or
print out the response form to post to
Keith Hughes
Pavement Parking Consultation
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
LONDON
SW1P 4DR

If this all seems very complicated take a look at the Dft’s Easy read: parking on the pavement questionnaire.


If you would like to see a full list of consultation questions before you respond, click here. Note: this is not the response form.


You are welcome to leave (polite) comments below, to engage with the local community, but these will not be seen by the DfT or become part of the consultation.


Current Trading Problems in Mill Road

A personal view from Edward Jenkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Jenkins


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


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

See also:


How is it working so far…

Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure


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


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

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

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

Annotated photo from Arjuna wholefoods co-operative

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


See also:


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: