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Greens back ‘transformative’ bridge closure as Mill Road consultation ends

Mill Road - confusion over whether the sun is setting or rising continues
Mill Road - confusion over whether the sun is setting or rising continues

The initial six-month consultation period on the ETRO (experimental traffic regulation order) on Mill Road has now ended, but the controversy over the closure of the bridge over the railway continues to raise hackles on both sides.

The opportunity to comment and request alterations on the ERTO, which prohibits all motor vehicles from using Mill Road bridge except for local buses and bicycles, closed on December 24.

The order had enraged the Mill Road Traders’ Association, who earlier this month called it “illegal”, and said it was having a hugely negative effect on their trade.

The Green Party, however, has come out in broad support of the closure, which started in June 2020.

“Nobody would deny that a transformative change has come about on Mill Road as a result of this contentious decision,” says the party. “Many residents on Mill Road and in the adjoining roads have praised the lower amounts of traffic and the consequential decreased noise and air pollution.

“Mill Road has been transformed into a space to walk and cycle safely, and buses are able to transit into and out of town more quickly, at the cost of car and taxi drivers. Pedestrians are able to socially distance using spaces reserved with plastic barriers in the road, and the road is increasingly accessible to those on mobility scooters. Fewer cars has led to a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

“We would support keeping the bridge closed to personal vehicular traffic and encourage Mill Road to continue to transform into a shopping destination and social hub, with the provision of green infrastructure, areas for café tables and space for market stalls.”

The sign painted on the tarmac of Mill Road bridge reads ‘One road, one community’
The sign painted on the tarmac of Mill Road bridge reads ‘One road, one community’

The Greens have one request – “an exception for taxi and blue badge holders to be able to cross the bridge” and “provision of short-stay car parking on or near to Mill Road to improve the access to Mill Road shops to car users”.

On social media, however, one resident in the area, Nick Tiley, has advocated starting up another access scheme for locals.

“We could have a ‘Cambridge Residents Local Access’ scheme, where people living on or close to Mill Road could register their vehicle – like residents parking – and be allowed to use the bridge,” Mr Tiley wrote on NextDoor. “This could be free or for an annual fee, and the fee could be lower for low and zero-emission vehicles.

“Other residents in the city could choose to buy an annual pass – for instance, they might have a relative living here who they visit often.

“We already have the CCTV infrastructure in place, it just needs hooking up to a billing system – and [surely] we have enough software developers in the city to do this?”

Romsey resident Ruth Greene pointed out that this new scheme would need to make provision for blue badge holders.

“I have a blue badge, but do not have a car,” she said. “I would welcome any scheme that allows me to register my badge so that any vehicle I am travelling in – especially when I have to pay for it – to be allowed over the bridge.”

Announcements on possible changes to the ETRO are expected in March.

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