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.

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Martin L-S
Martin L-S
Guest
16 December 2020 20:26

I doubt the County Council will be worried by a statement making quotes about legislation that is not even currently in force…

If the three traders reps do actually take action, I hope they are well aware of the issue of awards of costs for failed actions, which could result in a significant liability.