Traders overwhelmingly in favour of re-opening Mill Road bridge to cars

“The current bridge restrictions are having a detrimental effect on Mill Road Traders, residents and shoppers”

This was the message delivered by Shapour Meftah, chair of Mill Road Traders’ Association to senior County Councillors, council officers and contractors, at a meeting, on Wednesday 9th September at 2.30pm on Donkey Common, (next to Parkside Pools).

Cambridgeshire County Council and contractors were represented by Chair and Vice Chair of Highways and Transport Committee, Ian Bates and Mark Howell, contractor Skansa’s Principle Engineer, Anthony Eades, and County officers; Sonia Hansen (Traffic Manager) and Andhika Caddy (Engineer).

Traders cited these reasons for opposing the bridge restrictions:

  • Added extra time to people’s daily travel/commute 
  • Causing not less but MORE pollution because alternative routes for car drivers take longer and are over-congested
  • No access to disabled badge holders and emergency vehicles
  • The bollards and barriers have narrowed the road and resulted in more major traffic incidents along Mill Road and danger to cyclists and pedestrians 
  • The dangers of the build out particularly to cyclists with on coming traffic as well as buses which try to overtake parents with their children 
  • Disconnecting people from one side of Mill road to the other; It was explained to those present that Mill Road is not divided by the two boundaries it is ONE road 
  • Following  the 2019 rail works on the bridge and the ongoing gas works one obstacle after another has paralysed businesses and Mill Road has not been given a chance to get back on its feet after months of national pandemic lockdown and enforced closure of businesses
  • Closing the bridge hasn’t helped at all towards social distancing which is, by the government’s own admission not such a risk when passing someone in the street (sic on the closed bridge itself which was the contrived reason given for its closure) whereas gathering or waiting outside restaurants may be
  • People don’t feel safe walking; the government emphasis on encouraging people not to use public transport has made people feel that they are safer in their cars.
  • A number of shops are closing down on Mill Road due to the lack of footfall which has been caused by the bridge closure to cars

The Mill Road Traders’ Association Survey results and the ongoing Open Mill Road Bridge Petition which has already attracted over 2000 signatures was  presented to Councillor Ian Bates and his team.

The survey assessed the impact of the bridge restrictions on both traders and residents within the Petersfield and Romsey wards.  187 Businesses were sent out surveys and 170 responses were received. The 17 businesses which did not respond are no longer trading at this moment. See graphics, below.

  • 4.8 % (8 businesses) in Mill Road support the current restrictions
  • 87.6% of businesses want the bridge fully open
  • 7.6 % of businesses don’t mind
  • 92.9 % are independent businesses
  • 7.1 % are not independent
  • 100% of businesses felt that the Council Consultation was inadequate
  • 76.5% of independent businesses say that they are suffering
  • 17.6% of businesses report no change
  • 5.9% say they have benefitted from the restrictions

Councillor Ian Bates responded was that the County Council are listening and will will be reviewing the results of the Mill Road Traders’ Association survey. For the time being, Traders and Residents have been advised by the County Council to send all their objections to:

Leading members of Mill Road Traders’ Association say that they doubt the sincerity of this ‘listening’, noting that the Minister of Transport who awarded the funds to the county for these ‘temporary measures’ Grant Shapps has forced his own constituency at Welwyn to reverse the restrictions on the high street saying that it benefitted no one.

See this comment, relating to one of our other posts about the one-way scheme and suspension of parking bays in Welwyn.

Mill Road Bridges Web Editor

The Mill Road Traders’ Association can be contacted for comments at

Please note: Mill Road Bridges is happy to publish views from any section of Mill Road’s Community of Communities. And to host comments, replies and debate.

The publication of this post by Mill Road Bridges should not be considered an endorsement of the views of the Mill Road Traders’ Association nor of the objections to the Mill Road traffic-reduction measures and associated restrictions on the railway bridge. Neither should this statement be read as one of opposition to their views.

The press release, upon which this post is based, released under the name of Shapour Meftah, Chair, Mill Road Traders’ Association, continues with allegations of ‘collaboration’ and ‘bias’.

Mill Road Bridges does not wish to censor any viewpoint but declines to publish such allegations. Were the press release to be found on the Mill Road Traders’ Association website, we would link to that, for people to view and form their own opinion. The Traders’ website, however, does not appear to have been updated recently.

We take a similar attitude to comments on our website. We aspire to host polite debate on all matters concerning Mill Road.

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13 Comments (Don't forget to scroll down to subscribe to website updates.)
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Martin L-S
Martin L-S
23 December 2020 13:58

It’s good to see that the traders’ association have discovered an apparent new-found interest in disabled access in the last 6 months, in the form of their opposition to the bus gate scheme.

I surveyed the full length of the street at the weekend, and some 34 establishments still do not have step-free access. This some 25 years now after the original Disability Discrimination Act was introduced. I have photos of each one. Perhaps there is some way I can send them to the owner of this site so they can be shown on this page?

I see merely 3 years ago, the traders’ association actively opposed getting disabled access changes in place:

How can the traders’ association defend this?

Some shops like Al Amin have adapted their entranceways, which is excellent to see. But why are there still 34 that have not made the same change?

PS A reminder that the cycling campaign has pushed for shopper car parking and disabled parking at spots along Mill Road itself, since there is now space. Also addition of parking bays (to stop the continued problem of vans being driven onto pavements causing blockages for wheelchairs/buggies and difficulties for the blind). It remains disappointing that traders have not taken these idea up. I wonder why not. Why did their survey shown above not even ask whether such changes would now make the bridge change acceptable to them?

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Reply to  Martin L-S
11 January 2021 18:57

Martin, some businesses keep going on a very low profit margin and they can’t then afford to make expensive alterations. I do notice that a lot of traders have put bells outside their doors and a notice for people to ring if they need help getting into the shop.This is the first time I have noticed that you may actually care anything about disabled people and their difficulties because they can’t walk miles or cycle everywhere. Well that’s a pleasant surprise.
(For some business a loss of 5% of trade may mean having to close down because they weren’t very profitable, even before the loss of trade.)

Martin L-S
Martin L-S
Reply to  Margaret
11 January 2021 20:47

Nonsense; I’ve been campaigning on pavements blocked by cars, pathways with obstructive bollards and so on for well over a decade. I’ve successfully managed to get parking on the very obstructive pavement parking stopped on East Road for instance after several years’ campaigning on this.

Moreover, unlike the traders’ association I have actively been arguing for new dedicated disabled parking bays (and indeed bays for shoppers and deliveries, to stop pavement parking) in the Mill Road area, on Mill Road itself and at every side street now there is space.

17 December 2020 15:44

I avoid shopping on Mill Road precisely because it is a heavily polluted rat run for people going into the town centre.

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence
19 September 2020 20:55

I hope the residents and business of the Mill Road area can put some plants out on to the streets? I can’t work it out, but it’s as if the street has an unloved, uninterested air about it?? sorry, I can’t quite put it in to words… I can’t understand the point of the 4 or so buildouts on either of the the bridges, but may be people could put something there – plants?

Reply to  Stephen Lawrence
11 January 2021 19:01

The side of the road (South) where most of the shops are on the town side of the bridge is very dark and gloomy because it doesn’t get direct sun owing to the presence of the buildings which house the shops, usually with flats above. It’s not helped by the narrowness of the pavements.

18 September 2020 21:02

I don’t understand how anyone can think that encouraging more motor vehicles to make short journeys or use Mill Road as a through route for cars will be good for trade. It’s been so much more pleasant with fewer cars – if traders succeed in getting all the motor vehicles back with their noise, pollution and danger to other road users, I won’t be using their shops again.

Reply to  Chris
14 December 2020 20:23

Journey of ten minutes by car from East Road to Mill Road Romsey Town Post Office would take half an hour and increase pollution.

Trouble Up t'Mill Rd
Trouble Up t'Mill Rd
Reply to  ZJW
15 December 2020 15:23

But why would you make that journey, when there’s a Post Office in walking distance at Cobble Yard (Nº1)? And there’s two others closer for driving and on-street parking (Nº2, Tesco Hills Road, and Nº7 Vinery Stores). The Map is centred on ARU East Road Campus.
Post Office branch map

18 September 2020 15:47

I can’t help feeling that it is very difficult to separate the effects on businesses of COVID-19 restrictions and the traffic restrictions.

18 September 2020 09:56

It’s great to have more information from traders. I think it’s important to understand more about how these responses were gathered though, so I have some questions:

  • Would it be possible to see the original survey that was sent out to businesses? I think it’s important to understand the context under which this data was gathered.
  • Would it be possible to have a list of the respondents (but not their responses)?
  • How many of the respondents are members of the Mill Road Traders’ Association?
  • How many of the respondents have shop / business frontages along Mill Road (or side streets), as opposed to being home-based businesses, for example?
  • I’m struggling to understand the graph entitled “If you suffered, what was the percentage?”. This seems to indicate that 44 businesses suffered 100% losses due to the bridge closure, but this doesn’t seem like it can be right, so I must have misinterpreted. How should this graph be interpreted?

I’ll email these questions to the Traders’ Association too, if I can find contact details.

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