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Cambridge woman will ‘self-identify as a bus to avoid Mill Road bridge fines’

A woman who disagrees with the plan to close Mill Road Bridge to private vehicles claims she will self identify as a bus if she is fined for driving through traffic cameras.

Sheridan James, who runs a property business in Cambridge, will stage the protest if Cambridgeshire County Council’s planned Traffic Regulation Order for the bridge goes ahead, which would only allow bicycles, taxis, emergency vehicles, Blue Badge holders and buses to cross.

Sheridan James plans to self-identify as a bus to avoid Mill Road bridge fines
Sheridan James plans to self-identify as a bus to avoid Mill Road bridge fines

She has vowed to refuse to pay the fines, saying she will “sue” the council if it does not accept her identity as a bus.

Sheridan, 66, says: “Why are they creating more car fumes by making people drive three, four times the distance to get to their destination?”

She regularly drives from her home in Cromwell Road to work in her garden on Gwydir Street, a journey of just three minutes. But once the bridge is closed to cars it will take 15 minutes.

“My problem is that nothing is very joined up,” says Sheridan.

“When you displace traffic like that you create more pollution and more congestion because now instead of this quick drive to Gwydir Street, where I have my garden and I need to take my tools, it will take much longer.

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

“And I know what the argument is, well you could walk. But you try walking while carrying tens of kilos of potatoes plus gardening tools. I can’t, I’m 66. And, moreover, I won’t. I’m not going to do it, there’s no question. I’m more of a direct action sort of person, really. So I probably will be that old lady who’s driving across the bridge anyway going ‘oh, sorry’.”

She has struck on an idea to help her avoid being fined for crossing the bridge to get to her garden. “I will be identifying as a bus if the bus gate goes ahead,” she says.

“I will be identifying as a bus and I will be collecting those beautiful little penalty notices and papering my lavatory with them. Then I will take lovely pictures and post them all over the internet. And then when they take me to court, I will just say, well, I identify as a bus so what are you going to do? And I’m not paying.”

She added that if this reasoning does not wash with the county council, she will “sue them for discrimination and for not recognising my identity.”

Sheridan maintained that she is prepared to go to prison for not paying her fines, in protest at the planned bus gate.

She says: “I’ve been doing research on whether you can get sent to prison for not paying fines, which I’m rather hoping you can, so that next winter I don’t have to pay my extortionate energy bills and I don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner - sounds good to me!”

Cambridgeshire county councillors voted to restrict the movement of private traffic across the bridge. It will be monitored by ANPR cameras and anyone crossing the bridge who is not exempt will receive a fine.

The council hopes people will switch to active forms of transport to cross the bridge, such as cycling and walking.

A council spokesperson said: “Pedestrians, cyclists, buses, emergency vehicles, refuse vehicles, Dial-a-ride, all taxis and Blue Badge holders will be allowed to use Mill Road bridge.

“Mill Road bridge will be closed to the majority of motor vehicles. The closure will be enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras with the registered owner of any non-exempt private motor vehicle recorded using the bridge receiving a fine. It will be easy to distinguish between vehicle types as they are registered for different sorts of road tax/driving licence permissions.”

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