How will councillors help Cambridge and surrounding areas to thrive?

Cambridge Doughnut logo

Cambridge Doughnut asked candidates ahead of May 6th elections

Cambridge Doughnut envisions a new way of rebuilding the Cambridge economy following the pandemic to better meet the challenges of the 21st century, so asked candidates what issues they would prioritise in the aim to create a fairer, more sustainable city for all.

Cambridge Doughnut, a Cambridge-based community group working to support the regeneration of the Cambridge economy based on Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics principles, organised a digital “hustings” for political candidates contesting in the May 6th elections. Our questions covered issues that mattered to the residents of Cambridge while also considering the reality of the climate emergency we now live in. 

Cambridge Doughnut strives to foster an economy that supports the needs of all people while helping sustain the planet for future generations, using Raworth’s approach to build a society which is both socially just and sustainable. Launched in September 2020 Cambridge Doughnut have grown to over a hundred members in a little over six months. By asking candidates how they would help achieve the dual goals of social justice and environmental protection, the hope is to educate them in the principles of Doughnut Economics and its potential to transform administrative planning. 

Candidates from all key political parties standing for the Cambridge City elections replied to our call and their signed responses can be found in full here: Questions to Candidates

Cambridge Doughnut also wrote to candidates standing for the Cambridgeshire County Council and neighbouring district council elections; received a response from the Green Party Candidate for Cambridgeshire County Council in Abbey, and a collective response from South Cambs Greens at the time of writing. 

The following were the questions posed to candidates:

Ambitious growth plans for this most unequal of cities usually focuses on high-tech, bio and pharma industries – boosting opportunities for incomers, the already advantaged and the highly qualified.

1. How will you ensure the new Local Plan alongside council initiatives improves the living standards of the less privileged and those for whom ‘affordable housing’ is not affordable?

2. How will you seek to ensure the city as a whole delivers what’s needed to address the climate and ecological emergency (climate emergency was declared by the city council and Parliament in 2019)?

3. Will you work for (and how?) passage of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill?

For the 100-and-growing residents from Cambridge and surrounding areas who are part of Cambridge Doughnut, the motivation to run a digital “hustings” was two-fold: firstly, to receive a public commitment from candidates on where they stand on the above issues, and secondly, to encourage them to adopt principles from Doughnut Economics in planning, following the path taken by other cities around the world, including Amsterdam and Brussels. Closer to home, Cornwall Council identified the Doughnut model as a useful framework to assess the impact of policies.  

David Stoughton, a member of Cambridge Doughnut, said, “While there is some good intent when it comes to narrowing the wealth divide or tackling climate change, urgent demands and party politics tend to override better motivations. Without an unambiguous statement of belief and intent it is impossible for voters to hold our representatives to account, and this is what we hope to achieve.” 

Acknowledging the limited influence councillors have in changing national-level policies, fellow member and long-time resident Geraint Davies adds, “We are interested to hear the links candidates make between the big picture and the local Cambridge system. Are they referring to national political stances or do they have aspirations for local change? Are they making system-level connections between local issues? Are they connecting environmental protection with societal change? The responses indicate to some extent candidates’ alignment with the principles of Doughnut Economics. If you are interested in these principles and believe they are important in creating a fairer and more sustainable society, you can use the responses to steer your votes.”

At Cambridge Doughnut, the intention is to make Doughnut Economics a more central theme in the political dialogue, and we want to continue to work with councils and the successful candidates to promote a better understanding of Doughnut Economics and of ways to implement it locally.

What is Doughnut Economics? 

In her 2017 book Doughnut Economics, Oxford economist Kate Raworth laid out a new way of looking at economics based on the priorities set out by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Doughnut’s social foundation (the centre of the Doughnut) sets out the minimum standard of living for all covering basic rights like food, water and access to healthcare. The Doughnut’s ecological ceiling (the outside edge) comprises the planetary boundaries within which we must live to preserve our world – a stable climate, fertile soils, healthy oceans, a protective ozone layer, ample freshwater and biodiversity. 

Get Involved

Cambridge Doughnut are inviting residents and local organisations to join their efforts to help make the city of Cambridge and surrounding areas a thriving place for all. To find out more click here or email cambridgedoughnut@gmail.com.

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.

River Cam – from filthy ditch to Bathing Water status?

Whist slightly outside our territory, there is plenty of local concern about water quality in our city’s river and keen interest in our local Cam/Granta tributary, Cherry Hinton Brook.

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Cam Valley Forum has a tentative proposal to designate formally a stretch of the River Cam in Cambridge as a ‘bathing water’.

However, not everyone is in agreement, that this is the best route to cleaning the Cam…

At this initial informal consultation stage, Cam Valley Forum are inviting comments from local interests directly concerned with the River in the City. The proposal cannot proceed without the benefit of widespread support and agreement.

The area tentatively proposed for the designated ‘bathing water’ is indicated by the red line along the riverbank on the map and satellite images above (Source: Google Earth).

In the Victorian era, all rubbish and waste of every kind was disposed of directly into the river Cam, or into King’s Ditch, right near Market Square.

According to legend, Queen Victoria herself came to visit Cambridge early in her reign.  While she was here, she looked at the river, and found it so filthy that she couldn’t even identify all the kinds of rubbish that were floating in the water.  She asked, “What are those pieces of paper floating in the river?” Rather than saying they were book and newspaper pages used as toilet paper, the tactful answer was, “Those Ma’am are notices that bathing is forbidden!”.

Eglantyne Jebb was a campaigner for improved living conditions. She wrote an important policy report advocating proper piping from toilets to sewage pipes, and a sewage treatment facility. Her work resulted in the pumping station built on Riverside in 1894, now the Cambridge Museum of Technology.

Quayside from Magdalene Bridge, 1910, showing pumping station chimney downstream, from Tower Project Blog

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The Cam has been used for bathing for over four centuries. Traditionally men and boys from the town swam from the banks of Sheep’s Green, whereas those from the University swam a little further upstream. By the early nineteenth century, at least, both sites had become official bathing places known as the Town Sheds and the University Sheds. In the nineteenth century and for much of the twentieth, swimming in the river was immensely popular, and both sites had steps into the river, spring-boards, slides and diving platforms.

The Town Sheds were more lavishly equipped. They were managed by a custodian who, amongst other duties, taught boys to swim in Snobs’ Stream (the Millstream that branches from the Cam just south of Hodson’s Folly to serve Newnham Mill). The Town Sheds were a male preserve until, in 1896, the corporation opened the Ladies’ Bathing Place at the southern tip of Sheep’s Green where Snobs’ Stream leaves the river. In 1962 the Ladies’ Bathing Place was closed and mixed bathing was allowed at the Town Sheds.

In the 1970s, concerns about the health risks of polluted river water led to the closure of the Town Sheds and, by 1980, the site had become the base for the Cambridge Canoe Club. In the following decades swimming in rivers was discouraged and the Cam Conservancy, whose remit as the navigation authority includes the upper river, forbade swimming in daylight hours except at designated bathing places. By the beginning of this century there were no such designated places.

However, people continued to swim from the area of the Town Sheds. Jumping off the bridge remained popular. The secluded site of the University Sheds, by then renamed the Newnham Riverbank Club, provides simple wild swimming facilities for paying members. In recent years, people have increasingly enjoyed swimming from Sheep’s Green and Grantchester Meadows, and membership of the Newnham Riverbank Club is over-subscribed. Now, the Cam Conservancy allows swimming in the whole upper river from Byron’s Pool, above Grantchester, down to the King’s Mill Weir in Cambridge.

Cam Valley Forum
Swimming in the river in the 1970s. The Learner Pool, behind the honeycomb block enclosure, was built in 1972 – Cam Valley Forum


Read/download the whole of the Cam Valley Forum informal consultation paper on this tentative proposal, here.

You may send any comments to Cam Valley Forum at info@camvalleyforum.uk. If you would like to have a meeting to discuss the proposals, please mention this in your email. You may also leave (polite) comments on this website, below.

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Elsewhere…

Campaigns to use Bathing Water Status to improve river quality are now taking place across the country. One of the latest is in Bath…
One man’s fight to get bathing water status for a stretch of river near Bath

Johnny Palmer was so determined to tackle water quality at an island beauty spot near Bath that he bought the land. He now hopes to make Warleigh Weir the first area of river in the UK to be given bathing water status to spearhead a national campaign to clean up inland waterways.

Palmer, a property investor who has swum with his family at Warleigh Weir for many years, was shocked to find out that Wessex Water is allowed to discharge untreated sewage into the River Avon around the beauty spot.

“When I was told, I was like, ‘Woah, hold on. Back up a second. Seriously?’ I didn’t realise storm water mixed with untreated sewage flowed into our river.”

Sandra Laville, The Guardian, Wed 1 Jul 2020
Read the full article, here.

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River Wharfe, Ilkley

Perhaps the most persistent campaigners have been Becky Malby and her fellow advocates from the Ilkley Clean River Group.

Swimming, paddling and playing in Wharfe at Ilkley – Ilkley Clean River Group

Here is a flavour of the unfolding unfolding story…

Local people in a Yorkshire town are pressing for their river to become the first in the UK to be designated as a bathing area to force the authorities to clean up the water they say is being used as an open sewer.

In the spa town of Ilkley a grassroots campaign has uncovered the regular and routine dumping of untreated sewage by Yorkshire Water – with the approval of the Environment Agency – into the River Wharfe.

Growing pressure to clean up Britain’s rivers to meet bathing water quality is a “game changer” that will require more government funding as the public embrace the outdoors, the head of the Environment Agency has said.

A growing number of river users are calling for action to tackle the routine and legal discharge of untreated sewage into Britain’s waterways, which they say amounts to treating them like an open sewer.

The Environment Agency says nothing will be done to stem the flow of sewage into a Yorkshire river popular with swimmers and families until at least 2030.

Despite acknowledging that the level of sewage discharges into the River Wharfe at Ilkley – which have been admitted by Yorkshire Water – should trigger an investigation, the EA told campaigners nothing will happen for 10 years.

Campaigners seeking to make a river in Yorkshire the UK’s first to be designated a bathing area have accused environment ministers of blocking their application.

In the spa town of Ilkley, river users and residents submitted a 65-page application to turn part of the River Wharfe in the town into a bathing water area last October.

Ilkley’s three Bradford district councillors have expressed concern that the ongoing campaign to get the Wharfe designated for ‘safe swimming’ fails to acknowledge the river’s poor safety record.

Part of the River Wharfe in Ilkley, which is a popular swimming and paddling spot, is to be added to the list of bathing waters next year, after months of campaigning.

A stretch of the River Wharfe in Ilkley will have its pollution levels monitored by the Environment Agency to ensure it is safe for swimming.

The move follows a campaign by local residents who said they had seen “human solid waste” on the river bank.

Becky Malby, from the Ilkley Clean River Group, said she was “absolutely over the moon” at the news.

Selected paragraphs from news reports on the Guardian, Yorkshire Post and BBC websites. Click on each to read more details.

For full details of correspondence and more, head to the Ilkley Clean River Group website.

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Are we all agreed?

Just as there were multiple issues over the Ilkley River Wharfe proposals, not all Cambridge people are sure that this is the best way forward…

This is the response from Newnham Croft Residents’ Association to Stephen Tomkins and Cam Valley Forum.

Dear Stephen and CVF

I am writing on behalf of Newnham Croft Residents Association in regard to your proposals for Sheeps Green.

The state of the river, as you show, is indeed shocking, and we all want to see water quality improved. However, we have concerns about designation of this small area as a bathing place for the following reasons:

 1. Safety 

There are major safety issues:

  • Scudamores now have many more punts, which come along this part of the river
  • There is now a canoe club on the site with 500 members situated next to the Learner pool, with canoes launching along the area in front of it.  They are aware of the hazard this poses, and are suggesting that the bathing place should be at the former Ladies bathing place. This is adjacent to the Nature Reserve however, and increased noise and disturbance would be very detrimental to the wildlife there.
  • Even if lifeguards were provided, with so much activity in this part of the river it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for them to supervise swimming safely here, and there are real dangers – a child drowned here only a couple of years ago.
2. Environmental Impact

As your photos show, Sheeps Green used to be a popular bathing place with people from across the city, and many of us have very happy memories of swimming there in the 1970s. However, there was no car park then and although it was very busy on fine days, most of us walked or cycled. 

There would now be serious issues of environmental capacity – Sheeps Green and Coe Fen are both protected green spaces, and Paradise, which was like a jungle in the 1970s is now a very popular city nature reserve. 

The pressure on all these places and Lammas Land has grown enormously over the past year, and it seems that this will continue to increase as Cambridge expands and people are prepared to travel long distances by car to enjoy the places they have heard about on ‘what’s app’ and Facebook.There would need to be an environmental impact assessment as this proposal is likely to lead to a large increase in noise and disturbance that would be to be harmful to the wildlife and biodiversity, which should be given priority here. 

3. Access

The only access  for cars is down the Driftway, which leads off a rather hazardous junction. It is a narrow lane shared with pedestrians and cycles, and the small car park is used by shoppers, visitors to Lammas Land, Sheeps Green and Paradise as well as members of the Canoe Club. It is usually completely full already in the summer, with people parking (illegally) along the lane as well.

4. Facilities

The information given regarding the facilities available on site is rather misleading.

  • There are no changing facilities – the Canoe Club now occupies the site of the former bathing sheds and the couple of small rooms at the Learner Pool are only for children.
  • The 6 toilets at Lammas Land are not adequate for people using the park in the summer, let alone additional people coming to swim at a bathing place on the river.
  • There is no café, only a small kiosk serving drinks and ice- cream.

This is a small, environmentally sensitive area, and not suitable for building these facilities to meet the needs of visitors at a designated bathing place. We allwant to get the water quality in the Cam and its chalk streams improved, but a focus on this one small area could cause unintended harm.

 As Stephen wrote to me, ‘Wearing my ecology/wildlife hat I am not so keen on expanding the use of that area for people in high summer, but it is unquestionably a gambit that will force the hand of Anglian Water to really make a much bigger effort to raise the water quality’

It should not be necessary to risk irreparable harm to a protected green space and nature reserve to get Anglian Water to improve water quality along the whole river, and I hope we will be able to work with you to achieve this .

We would be happy to attend a meeting to discuss it with you further.

Kind Regards
Jean Glasberg
Chair Newnham Croft Residents Association

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And the views of Friends of the Cam*

*Friends of the River Cam was initiated by Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Cambs and Peterborough, Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations, Cambridge Friends of the Earth, Cambridge Schools Eco-Council and Cambridge Labour Party Environment Forum.

Tony Booth started this petition – Save the Cam – on behalf of the Friends of the River Cam, are asking individuals and organisations to put pressure on local government, water companies and the Environment Agency in the Cambridge area to Save the River Cam and its tributaries by signing up to support the Cam River Charter.

Friends of the Cam letter to Cam Valley Forum

The Friends of the Cam have given consideration to the CVF proposal to apply for bathing quality status for the Cam at Sheep’s Green.

While we are eager to explore ways of restoring the health of the river, we are deeply concerned that choosing one small point on the river could, paradoxically, do more harm than good.

DEFRA requires that a bathing area on the river should provide adequate parking, toilet facilities, a cafe and lifeguards

These facilities are currently either inadequate or would need to be provided, and this would have a hugely detrimental effect on this delicate nature reserve.
Cambridge has doubled in size since Sheep’s Green was last a popular swimming location. 50 years ago locals would have travelled there by bike or walked. Today, however, official designation would draw people in from a much larger city, and from a further afield too, bringing traffic and related air pollution.

Sheep’s Green would become a huge draw, attracting far larger crowds than at any time in the past, to what is an environmentally sensitive water meadow, grazed by cows which, as Kim Wilkie pointed out in his talk to Friends of the Cam, have been a critical part of this finely balanced ecosystem for centuries. The cows kick up ground which allows wildflowers to seed, prevent larger plants from establishing and fertilise the soil. This ecology is also described here, in the Eastern Daily Press.

It is extremely likely that authorities would decide that the cows should be removed.

It is also a sad reality that large crowds would leave litter, which is harmful to the cows and wildlife. Last year a young heffer died after swallowing a plastic bag in the river

We urge CVF to explore alternative ways to improve water quality in the Cam and alternative sites for swimming. River campaigners in Oxford are demanding that a whole stretch of the Thames have bathing quality status

We would urge CVF to explore a similar approach in Cambridge.

Friends of the Cam

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And the views of the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations

Dear Cam Valley Forum,

Cam Valley Swimming Proposal

Lots of residents have contacted Federation of FeCRA committee members about the Forum’s application to make the area adjacent to the Canoe Club into a Designated Bathing Area. We are hearing citywide concern that this will endanger unique medieval green spaces, described by the landscape architect Tom Turner as equivalent to the best art in the Fitzwilliam Museum.

If the intention is to put pressure on Anglian Water residents wonder why Cam Valley Forum isn’t asking for a much bigger stretch of the river to be clean. Anglian Water’s track record on pollution is bad and yet despite that it is receiving substantial government funding from Homes England to relocate the sewage works.

This Ends Report article states that the Environment Agency will no longer be monitoring pollution incidents. Residents ask if this is why the Environment Agency are keen to support small designated clean bathing areas in rivers.  

We have previously flagged concerns [To the Cambridge City Council Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee. Click to read/download the PDF.] about what appears to be a well orchestrated lobby against cows grazing on the commons. There are concerns that a bathing place at Sheeps Green could lead to the loss of the cows which are an intrinsic part of the ecosystem there. This was raised again in our question to the Scrutiny Committee about the council’s support for plastic cows on the commons but not the real cows. 

Cambridge commons losing their cows and, with that, their status as commons goes completely against all that the landscape architect Kim Wilkie said at the recent Friends of the Cam talk about a river landscape strategy and the role of grazed meadows in flood management.

Other concerns people have shared with us include the impact on biodiversity and on much loved city nature reserves and the big impact on local wildlife and nature large numbers of bathers, picknickers and sunbathers on the edge of Paradise Nature Reserve is likely to have. 

Safety is another issue that has been raised. The punting route to Grantchester Meadows is very popular and the proximity of the very popular canoe club with a membership of 500, drawn from a wide catchment, makes this unsuitable for a designated swimming area. Wild swimming is also very popular and people are likely to come from miles. The car park is already full in the summer months, more people driving over for a swim would soon cause overflow.

Has there been any health and safety assessment about the likely number of users and congestion on the river ? Any traffic impact assessment ? 

The recent report commissioned by the City Council and Cambridge Water included no impact assessment of river areas and/or river green spaces at risk or threatened by development.

Residents are asking if this bathing initiative relates to Natural Cambridgeshire’s plans for a Cam River Park corridor, the proposals  for Accelerator Parks and the Wider Cambridge Visitors Project.

The lack of changing cabins and public toilets will require infrastructure which would not be acceptable to people in a protected green space. People have highlighted that Cambridge’s famously rus in urbe style of cows on the meadows is admired all over the world. This New York Times article was widely syndicated.

Allan Brigham, Cambridge’s champion of the commons, wrote :

“Whichever way you approach Cambridge, you see grass, trees and lots of sky. The college gardens, parks and commons bring nature right into the town. Cows graze on Midsummer Common just five minutes’ walk from Marks & Spencer – and in the summer office workers and students eat their lunch beneath the willows trees that line the river at Coe Fen. At weekends Jesus Green becomes a giant playing field with games of every kind – from skateboarding to lacrosse. These spaces are vital to people’s wellbeing,” 

“It’s easy to take Cambridge’s open spaces for granted. But … the protection of these spaces is, to my mind, just as important as the preservation of Cambridge’s iconic buildings.”

For all these reasons the FeCRA committee cannot support this application. As we have said before, it would be great if Cam Valley Forum can work with FeCRA and Friends of the River Cam so that together we can urge the City Council to use its powers and that of the Environment Agency to be much more ambitious, ensure that the green spaces of the Cam are protected, that water quality along the whole river is improved and that the river is safe for all users. 

Best wishes,
Wendy Blythe, Chair
For the FeCRA Committee

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Further links and resources

Let it Flow!
Proposals from the Cam Valley Forum for an Integrated Water Resource Management Plan for the Cam Valley
(PDF)

CAM VALLEY MATTERS No. 64 22 February 2021 The Occasional Newsletter of the Cam Valley Forum (PDF)

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What are your views on this tentative proposal? You may send any comments to Cam Valley Forum at info@camvalleyforum.uk. If you would like to have a meeting to discuss the proposals, please mention this in your email. You may also leave (polite) comments on this website, below.

Grow a Row to Support the Cambridge Emergency Food Response

A guest post, from Jasmine of Cambridge Sustainable Food

Are you a grower or Allotment Holder who could “Grow a Row” extra to help support Cambridge’s Emergency Food Response?

Cambridge Sustainable Food is looking for local growers to help support the Cambridge emergency food programme by planting extra crops and donating fruit, veg and herbs towards one of the eight community food hubs around Cambridge. 

Chesterton Allotments donations

Last summer Cambridge Sustainable Food ran a Grow a Row campaign which saw nearly two tonnes of fresh produce grown and donated by individuals, families, streets, community projects, allotments and community farms, which went towards supporting the local emergency food response.

poster - including brief wording from this post

After the success of last year, Cambridge Sustainable Food are running the Grow a Row campaign again, and are looking for people to grow and share to help support the local Cambridge community. We welcome all donations of fresh fruit, veg and herbs to help keep our services running, and support those struggling to access food. You don’t have to be an experienced grower to help out – we welcome growers old and new. So even if you want to try growing some herbs on your windowsill, please get in touch!

Adopt a herb to grow on your windowsill

If you could “Grow a Row” extra, get your street involved in growing together, or if you find you have a glut on your hands that you would like to donate, please contact info@cambridgesustainablefood.org

For more information about “Grow a Row”, and online resources for first time growers, see Cambridge Sustainable Food’s Grow a Row webpage, here.


Editor’s note:
If you’re unable to grow food but have surplus to donate…

Don’t forget about The Edge Café Community Fridge & Larder (Food Hub) Brookfields Campus 351 Mill Road, Cambridge CB1 3DF T:01223 212 478

Whilst the café is currently closed, the Food Hub remains open 11-1 Monday to Saturday.

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.

Devonshire Gardens Q&A

Zoom sessions 2nd & 3rd December

By Charlotte de Blois

The former Travis Perkins site is coming up for redevelopment. It is a site earmarked for housing and, in advance of creating designs for the scheme,  a series of Zoom consultations have taken place hosted by Finlay McNab of The Devonshire Gardens Team. They took place this week on Wed 2nd, Thur 3rd and Fri 4th December.

The purpose of these meetings is to identify design priorities which are in accord with local  needs and aspirations. City Cllrs. Mike Davey and Richard Robertson together with County Cllr. Linda Jones participated. In addition there were half a dozen other interested people from local community groups. There were 3 sessions:

  1. Sense of Place and character,  
  2. Liveability, Health and Open Spaces,
  3. Cycling and walking.

Very soon the first meeting on Sense of Place and character started straying off-topic onto Open Spaces. It is not easy to identify what Mr McNab took away from the discussion although at one stage he asked whether he was right in assuming that the community was not interested in the physical style of the built environment but in how space was used. Several participants contested this, and stressed that physicality was important to the community and the use of traditional building materials is valued.

Click the image to visit our earlier post Devonshire Gardens, Cambridge

Participants also stressed that there was a strong sense that creating an ecologically rich environment is important to our community and this should extend beyond allocating open space for grass and providing play equipment for infants. Flower gardens with seating were identified as important, tree planting and possibly roof gardens were mentioned. A participant from Marmalade Lane co-housing community made two valuable observations.

  1. Tarmac is an important material for infants, how else can children learn to skate or ride bikes?
  2. Community gardens and food gardens would fit in well with Mill Road as the road is all about good food!

Thursday’s meeting concentrated on landscape design and the need for open space to provide benefit to a wide range of demographics. The discussion started from the agreed premise that open space is important for physical health and mental well-being; in addition there was a strong lobby who consider that the opportunity to cultivate is a basic human urge and the presence of plants mitigates the ill-effects of pollution.

Community participants stressed that teenagers often used open space more than other groups and that they often felt vulnerable in places where there are dead ends. There was almost a consensus that wild open space worked well on many levels, particularly if tree planting was accompanied by planted undergrowth which encourages bio-diversity.

There was strong support for providing moving water in public landscapes. Inclusivity was considered a priority which led the discussion on to management structures for community organised facilities such as cafés and gardens. A participant argued that 2 seater side-by-side benches where not good for social interaction and that movable seating should be provided. Other suggestions were mazes bordered by hedges which a) provide long runs and a sense of travelling in a really small area and b) satisfy or stimulate a sense of curiosity and adventure in all age groups. 

Traders Threaten legal Action over Bridge Restrictions

Mill Road Traders’ Association is considering legal action over the Mill Road bridge traffic restrictions, introducing a ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ on the basis that the scheme is not truly ‘experimental’.

The allegation of illegality

In a press release, dated 12 December 2020, Mill Road Traders’ Association claim that:

The county council had no lawful authority to implement the Mill Road closure through an experimental traffic regulation order because the order violates section 9(1) of the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984, which requires that an experimental order may only be made for a valid experimental purpose.

Shapour Meftah, Cantab Millennium, Chairman Mill Road Traders’ Association

Unfortunately, the Traders’ Association’s own website has not been updated with details of their latest action, however a PDF of the Mill Road Traders’ Association press release can be read/downloaded here. A useful summary was published in the Cambridge Independent.

Traders claim that the order to close Mill Road bridge to to all traffic except cycles and buses was “illegal” – and they have demanded that Cambridgeshire County Council reopens it immediately.

Alex Spencer, Cambridge Independent, 14 December 2020 (Click to view full article)

Interviews on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

On Tuesday 15 December 2020, traders Abdul Arain (al:Amin), Sheila Gresham (Cambridge Antiques Centre) and Patty (Gwydir Street Hive) were interviewed by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire journalist Sarah Varey. Breakfast show presenter Andy Lake asked City Councillor Dave Baigent (Romsey, Labour) for a response.

Click below to hear the clip.

We noted that Abdul Arain, felt threatened by lorries and buses when cycling. We wondered about this and asked County Councillor Linda Jones, who responded:

We have always had lorry traffic in the Petersfield stretch of Mill Rd and any new development will generate a temporary increase. Lorry drivers can sometimes  be inconsiderate but I have had few complaints – and none about buses at all. 

County Councillor Linda Jones (Petersfield, Labour)

The legislation & Statutory Guidance

Readers can study the relevant sections of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 here. See also the Statutory Guidance from the DfT.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has had a terrible impact on the lives and health of many UK citizens, as well as severe economic consequences. But it also resulted in cleaner air and quieter streets, transforming the environment in many of our towns and cities.

And millions of people have discovered, or rediscovered, cycling and walking. In some places, the initial lockdown period saw a 70% rise in the number of people on bikes – for exercise, or for safe, socially distanced travel.

We need people to carry on cycling, and to be joined by millions more , particularly while public transport capacity is still reduced.

And millions of people have discovered, or rediscovered, cycling and walking. In some places, the initial lockdown period saw a 70% rise in the number of people on bikes – for exercise, or for safe, socially distanced travel.

We need people to carry on cycling, and to be joined by millions more , particularly while public transport capacity is still reduced…

The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel…

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, foreword to the to the Statutory Guidance from the DfT.

Emergency legislation came into force on 23 May 2020 to temporarily amend:
The Road Traffic (Temporary Restrictions) Procedure Regulations 1992
The Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996
The Secretary of State’s Traffic Order (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1990

The amendments introduce an emergency procedure for the making of temporary traffic orders. The main change is to the means of advertising the order, which can be via digital means. Once the order has been made, a second notice still needs to be published for information within 14 days. This is via a newspaper, where these are available, or via digital means if it is not reasonably practicable to publish in a newspaper.

Statutory Guidance from the DfT.

Further information on TROs, TTROs, ATTROs and ETROs can be studied in BRIEFING PAPER, Number CBP 6013, 11 June 2020, Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) from the House of Commons Library.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s scheme documentation

Cambridgeshire County Council issued a press release in June 2020 stating:

The Government has given authorities funding through the Combined Authority, to deliver pop-up cycle lanes, wider pavements, safer junctions and bus-only corridors. The Council has worked closely with city and district councils to prepare a list of schemes to get more people walking and cycling…

Cambridgeshire County Council – Cycling and walking support in midst of pandemic (click to read the full press release)

The official documentation for the Mill Road ETRO can be read/downloaded here:

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.

Legal action & similar cases

Speaking yesterday, Tuesday 15 December 2020, Piero d’Angelico claimed that the Mill Road Traders’ Association are advised by a barrister that ‘a judge had overturned’ a similar experimental scheme in London. It was unclear from the conversation which scheme had been ‘overturned’, nor the precise action which the Mill Road Traders’ Association planned. We assume that this would be a High Court application for judicial review. We have found a number of such applications, which we list below.


The publication of this post by Mill Road Bridges should not be considered an endorsement of the views of Mill Road Traders’ Association. Neither should this statement be read as one of opposition to their views. Our mission is to facilitate information and debates about all matters affecting Cambridge’s Mill Road. This post is open for (polite) comments.