Mayor pledges support for closing Mill Road Bridge again
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor Dr Nik Johnson has given his backing to closing Mill Road Bridge to traffic again.
In a statement released following a meeting with transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris, the mayor said he recognised “previous controversies” but supports the “direction of travel around restricting traffic movements”.
Mr Heaton-Harris told the county last month that money from the Capability Fund to aid cycling and walking improvements was being held back from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough because of “prematurely removed active travel schemes”.
Authorities elsewhere received between £660,000 and £2.88million in the latest round of funding - but Mr Heaton-Harris said those that had “removed, or are proposing to remove, cycles schemes installed under the fund” or intending to “water them down” would miss out until there were fresh assurances.
Dr Johnson said the government was “disappointed with the outcomes of previous schemes and understandably withheld funding”.
He said the Department for Transport was keen to see a meaningful commitment from the Combined Authority to implement effective active travel schemes.
The Labour mayor said: “As a children’s doctor I know the effects that air pollution has on young people’s general health. In the past couple of weeks, I was shocked to see Cambridge City having warnings regarding exercising outside due to the levels of air pollution. This cannot go on.
“I want not just for my three children, but for all children in Cambridgeshire to live in an area where they can breathe clean and healthy air.”
Cambridgeshire County Council’s highways and transport committee voted on July 27 to reopen bridge, with a full review of future options to be undertaken.
It took a casting vote from the chair, Labour’s Cllr Gerri Bird, who had been particularly concerned about disabled access, to make the decision.
The decision followed months of wrangling and debate over the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) imposed in June 2020 to encourage social distancing during the pandemic.
The Combined Authority is currently preparing its Local Transport and Connectivity Plan to be released next year which will feature further details on active travel measures in the county.
The mayor has also pledged his support for the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s City Access strategy, which seeks to cut car use and encourage people to travel on foot, public transport or by bike.
He continued: “I recognise the previous controversies surrounding schemes such as the Mill Road
“Bridge closure and the Crescent Bridge active travel schemes. I support the direction of travel around restricting traffic movements in these areas, subject to a full and meaningful consultation which will deliver the improvements in air quality and lifestyle, which are so important to my ambition to placing public health at the heart of all policy.
“Understandably, the government needs guarantees that public money for active travel schemes is being well spent and delivers for the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. They have given us reassurances that the money will become forthcoming if these can be met.
“I will continue to work cooperatively with the government and all local interested parties to ensure the successful delivery of future active travel funding, which will benefit all communities here in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”