Mill Road survey shows majority of traders want bridge open
An overwhelming number of traders on Mill Road in Cambridge want the bridge reopened according to a survey – and 100 per cent of those who replied said the county council’s consultation with them about the closure was inadequate.
Cambridgeshire County Council closed Mill Road bridge to all traffic except cyclists and pedestrians in June in a bid to allow people to walk two metres apart to prevent the spread of coronavirus. It used an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order, which does not require a consultation before changes are implemented – feedback is collected during the first six months.
However, since the closure, businesses in the area say they have seen a massive downturn in trade.
The survey carried out by the Mill Road Traders’ Association assessed the impact of the bridge closure on traders and residents within the Petersfield and Romsey wards, according to its chair, Shapour Meftah. The surveys were sent to 187 businesses and 170 responses were received. The results showed only eight shops in Mill Road want the bridge closed (4.8 per cent) whereas 87.6 per cent want the bridge open and 7.6 per cent said they did not mind either way.
Of those surveyed, 92.9 per cent were independent businesses.
The survey results and the ongoing Mill Road bridge petition, which has attracted more than 2,000 signatures, were presented to Cllr Ian Bates, who chairs the highways and transport committee at Shire Hall. He told them he was listening to their concerns.
But Mr Meftah said: “There is a feeling of doubt over the sincerity of the listening.”
He added: “The minister of transport who awarded the funds to the county council for these ‘temporary measures,’ Grant Shapps, has forced his own constituency at Welwyn to reverse the restrictions on the high street, saying that it benefitted no one.”
Concerns raised by Mr Meftah on behalf of businesses include:
- Extra time being added to commutes (causing more pollution as alternative routes take longer and are congested)
- Disabled badge holders are not allowed to cross the bridge
- Bollards and barriers further along Mill Road have narrowed the road and resulted in “major traffic incidents” and “dangers to cyclists and pedestrians”.
A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the Mill Road Traders’ Association’s survey and we’d be happy to receive a copy and include their comments as part of our review. We are taking all feedback on board and will continue to monitor the effect of the changes on Mill Road. We have acted quickly in liaison with the city council and local county councillors to respond to the current coronavirus emergency by putting in more spaces for pedestrians to encourage and support active travel and make sure local people can socially distance whilst using Mill Road.”
The council added that the changes are experimental measures, which can last up to 18 months and are subject to a six-month consultation and review.