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Mill Road spray painted with protest messages

Spray painted messages have appeared on Mill Road Bridge overnight apparently protesting plans to close it to all traffic except buses and bicycles next week.

The anonymous messages read: “Hands off Mill Road” and “One road, one community”.

They come after the decision on Tuesday (June 16) by Cambridgeshire County Council to launch a raft of temporary cycle and pedestrian-friendly measures on around 90 roads across the county, including the plan for Mill Road bridge, in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

A protest sprayed on the road reads: Hands off Mill Road" (36964288)
A protest sprayed on the road reads: Hands off Mill Road" (36964288)

Petersfield county councillor Linda Jones explained earlier this week that the pavements on Mill Road bridge were too narrow to allow for pedestrians to be safely socially distanced at two metres apart.

She said: “It is very difficult to socially distance there. The proposal is to have a number of build-outs (of the pavement) to enable pedestrians to stand and wait while others pass by to make that safe. The key focus is safety and if there are build-outs, there has to be a way of managing down traffic.”

However many people were shocked by the sudden decision which was not made known to the local community before it was taken. And Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner has raised concerns about the lack of consultation with residents.

The Mill Road Traders’ Association expressed concerns that businesses on the street were already financial difficulties following their forced closure under the lockdown as well as last year’s closure of the bridge due to railway works and gas works and the impact of the fire at Gee’s electrical store.

Spokesman Piero D’Angelico said: “Many businesses may not even be able to reopen if this bridge closure happens because they will already be losing trade because of social distancing rules and now this will reduce the number of people coming to Mill Road to shop even further. It’s going to have a massive impact on people’s livelihoods.”

The sign painted on the tarmac of Mill Road bridge reads: "One road, one community" (36964290)
The sign painted on the tarmac of Mill Road bridge reads: "One road, one community" (36964290)

The partial closure of the bridge will prevent cars, taxis and vans travelling from between the Petersfield and Romsey sides of the bridge. Only buses, bicycles and pedestrians will be able to travel between the two halves of the road.

However, many cyclists in the city were celebrating the closure, due to happen on Wednesday next week (June 24) when work starts to build out the pavements.

Cycling charity CamCycle wrote on their website: “Camcycle acknowledges and supports the recently released County Council plan to safeguard public health using an experimental bus gate and multiple pavement expansion schemes on Mill Road. The road is an important community hub and retail area; however, it lacks adequate pavement space to facilitate the social distancing required by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new proposals will address this issue and provide space for people to pass safely through and to access local amenities – vital for restoring businesses as lockdown eases. The measures will ensure traffic levels stay low, and in doing so allow a faster bus route between Addenbrooke’s and the city centre.”

The bridge closure is being implemented under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) which will be in place for 18 months, of which the first six months will be the consultation period and people can provide feedback either via email policyandregulation@cambridgeshire.gov.uk or in writing to Policy and Regulation Team, Highways Depot, Stanton Way, Huntingdon, Cambs, PE29 6PY.

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