Cambridge’s Mill Road bridge closure still on hold as legal judgment awaited
The closure of Cambridge’s Mill Road bridge to most private motor vehicles remains on hold, as campaigners against the plan await the outcome of their legal challenge.
Pam Wesson, the chair of Friends of Mill Road Bridge, has taken Cambridgeshire County Council to the High Court in a bid to prevent the bus gate being implemented.
The restriction, voted for by councillors, would allow only buses, bicycles, taxis, blue badge drivers and pedestrians to cross the bridge.
A second court hearing about the decision to close the bridge took place on Thursday, 1 February. A judge will now decide whether the full hearing will go ahead later this year or whether the case will be struck out.
Pam, who runs a vintage shop in the city, said: “We are on tenterhooks waiting for this decision. I am very pleased that due to the court action, which has been funded by local supporters, we have been able to hold off the bridge closure now for several months.
“This route being open makes a huge difference to my business. Whenever I need to collect stock I have to travel over the bridge or do a two-mile detour.”
Drivers who are not exempt would face a £70 fine for travelling through the new bus gate, which would be enforced by automatic number plate recognition cameras. A council consultation found 72 per cent of respondents were in favour of the move to improve the environment for walking and cycling.
The grounds upon which Pam is suing the council include the failure to provide adequate reasons for proposing the Traffic Regulation Order, the failure to provide and/or notify objectors of the reasons for the making of the order, a mistake of fact in relation to the exemption for carers of blue badge holders, the failure to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty, the decision erroneously taking into account the potential to attract funding, and the failure to consult other organisations as part of statutory consultation.
A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “On Thursday, 1 February, we attended a court hearing in London for the legal challenge to the Mill Road Traffic Regulation Order.
“The court heard the representations from the claimant and the county council, and we now await the judgment.”
Liz Walter, from the campaign group Mill Road 4 People, which is in favour of the restriction, said: “While Mill Road 4 People was naturally hoping for an immediate strike-out, we recognise that the criteria for this are rightly extremely stringent.
“However, we find it disappointing that a small group of people continue to act against the wishes of the majority of local residents.
“In addition, we are extremely disappointed that the county council has allowed this action to delay much-needed safety work on the bridge. We hope that this matter will soon move to a resolution.”