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Campaigners awarded £4,000 costs in Cambridge’s Mill Road bridge case

Campaigners who have taken Cambridgeshire County Council to court to prevent a ban on most motorised traffic crossing Mill Road bridge in Cambridge have been awarded £4,000 in legal costs by a judge.

Pam Wesson, the chair of the Friends of Mill Road Bridge, has mounted the legal challenge against the council’s decision to implement a bus gate on Mill Road bridge.

The Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), voted for by councillors, would allow only buses, bicycles, taxis, Blue Badge drivers and pedestrians to cross the bridge.

Mill Road bridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Mill Road bridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Following a hearing in February, in which the council attempted to have the case struck out, a judge has ruled that there are grounds for Ms Wesson to pursue it. Now she has been told the council will have to pay £4,000 towards her legal costs.

Ms Wesson said: “I’m delighted to have been awarded these costs. It makes a huge difference to our ability to be able to keep on fighting this case. We have raised some money through fundraising, but this is much needed.

“We are also celebrating the one-year anniversary of when the council voted to impose the TRO. This legal action has resulted in a year of that not being implemented. A free year is a huge victory already. It has been year of making sure traders earn what they’re supposed to be earning, and that people aren’t paying £70 pounds to go over the bridge.”

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 a majority of respondents were in favour of the move to improve the environment for walking and cycling. But it has remained controversial.

Mill Road bridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Mill Road bridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Ms Wesson is now expecting the substantive hearing to decide whether the TRO can be legally enacted will take place in the autumn.

She is to challenge the council on the grounds of a mistake of fact as to an exemption under the Traffic Regulation Order for use of Mill Road by carers of ‘Blue Badge’ holders; a failure to carry out the council’s public sector equality duty under s149 of the Equality Act 2010; erroneously taking into account the potential to attract funding; and an allegation that the decision to make the Traffic Regulation Order was tainted by “apparent bias or predetermination”.

A county council spokesperson said: “We have recently been made aware that the claimant has been awarded partial costs in relation to her application to the court and the hearing back in February on the Mill Road bridge Traffic Regulation Order. It wouldn’t be appropriate to comment further until this case is determined. We will not carry out any works to enforce the TRO until the case is fully resolved.”

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