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27 Jul, 65 tweets, 9 min read
The Mill Road item is now starting.

Chair Gerri Bird starts with a procedural matter to confirm she has removed her name from the petition against the bus gate that she co-started, in order to give neutrality as Chair.…
The officer introduces the report on the Mill Road Bus Gate scheme.

You can see the report at:…
The officer introduces the substantial consultation that has taken place during the ETRO period. Notes that Cambridge traffic is about 70% lower than usual still. States the buildouts along the street should be removed (on which everyone seems to be unanimous!)
The Chair notes that councillors have received "considerable public input" on this time. Bit of an understatement...
The first objector is Chris Smith. He refers to the bus gate restriction as a 'closure', and a 4,700 person petition. (Actually, three smaller different petitions were combined, without the consent of those signing.) He flags up disabled access issues - we too want improvements.
The officer responds that the disabled access issues are discussed in the report. We would like to see clearer proposals from officers to improve disabled access.
The next speaker is Piero from the Mill Road Traders' Association.

One of our trustees has had several productive discussions with him to see what aspects of our proposals would form common ground.
Piero mentions the petitions. He gives figures for shop closures during the pandemic. He says 'Do the right thing, and reopen the bridge'.
Next up is Abdul Arain. He talks about how Mill Road is a mile-long community, described as "one of Britain's most dynamic high streets" - indeed it is! He gives examples of individuals with disabilities who have found the bus gate problematic.
He claims 90% of businesses are suffering, implying this is due to the bridge rather than than the pandemic.
The next speaker, is from some other traders who are in favour of the bus gate scheme.

He states the street is not dependent on car parking, but that the current scheme needs improvements, e.g. exemptions from the bridge and improvements along the street. (We agree.)
Next is our Anna Williams, of ourselves. She notes that the majority of respondents to the huge consultation are in favour, but people want to see improvements along the street.
Since the scheme began, we have noticed a clear increase in families cycling. The street used to have an enormous collision record, which is now clearly improved. The council has put health & climate change at the heart of its agenda - which the bus gate helps.
We would like to see the bus gate retained, the buildouts removed, and many practical changes along the street, with consultation by December.
The next speaker is a trader from the street. She says business is down 33% [NB this is broadly comparable to Cambridge BID city centre figures], and says people driving get lost getting to her business.
She says that cyclists aren't cycling over the bridge in bad weather. She also notes the buildouts are poor, causing close-passes. [NB The buildouts are already proposed to disappear.]
Next up is Liz from @MillRoad4People, who are a diverse group of local residents who have tried to help form a compromise on the issue. She notes the street stalls they have done, pointing out the vast majority of residents they have spoken to are in favour of the proposals.
She notes that 14 new businesses have opened on Mill Road, evidenced on their website. This is not the sign of a dying street. Secondly, she notes that the street was continually seeing WHO pollution guidelines breached.
Opening the bus gate would be tantamount to a counsel of despair, she says, and will not move things forward. Both conservatives nationally and libdem/labour parties have clear policy locally towards schemes like Mill Road.
Next up, the person running Fews Lane, Longstanton, is speaking. He lists various schedules accusing the council of an unlawful order. He claims the current experimental order cannot be made permanent. [He notes no problem with a fresh, comprehensive TRO as many have proposed.]
The officer replies that the council took legal advice and believes it was made lawfully, and this has not been challenged.
Next up Cllr Robertson, a City Councillor for Petersfield. He notes that part of Mill Road is still a rat-run to the station. He wants to see the buildouts removed, saying that a replacement is needed to keep speeds down [yes, absolutely].
He notes the need for wider pavements, more crossings, and measures are needed to prevent pavement parking. [Again, we have proposed exactly this - which can only be done if there is space freed up from queueing traffic.]
He says that Petersfield residents seem to be 50/50 on the issue. Like us, he wants to see consultation and development of ideas.
Next up, Cllr Scutt, who is a city councillor for West Chesterton. She notes that there was a need for consultation with taxi drivers.
She says that the council should take every step it can in consultation. [We too would like to see consultation on a clear design of a specific scheme during Autumn.]
Next speaker is Cllr Baigent, who is city councillor for Romsey. He urges the council to take the high ground, and says to do the right thing. He notes the safety problems that were there before.
He reads out a lovely statement from a 13 year-old who has said he can now safely on Mill Road but couldn't before.

We see the same thing ourselves:
He notes that the community is continuing to mix happily - communities mix by walking, not by car.
He notes that he stood to keep the bridge restriction, coming top of the poll. The candidate who stood to reopen the bridge to traffic came last. He says there is a strong electoral mandate not to let 12,000 cars to queue through again.
Next up, Cllr Richard Howitt, Petersfield. He says there are strongly-held views on both sides of the debate.
He says that one of the reasons for the scheme was COVID, saying this issue has now gone away. [The other reason, as clearly stated on the legal order, was increasing levels of active travel.]
He notes the importance of the independent trading environment, something everyone agrees on.
He states he wants to see a low-traffic, low-pollution Cambridge, but believes that the scheme should be removed. He says the scheme should be scrapped, saying there should be a wider scheme - basically proposing a delay during which traffic would come back in.
We now go onto the debate.
Cllr Shailer, the councillor for Romsey, announces an amendment.
The amendment is to: [1] Retain the bus gate scheme temporarily, [2] with a view to permanence later, [3] but with a full consultation on exemptions, with [4] immediate resolution on the taxi access and [5] disability access.
Cllr Shailer proposes a second alternative proposed amendment to [1] reopen to traffic, but [2] consult on exemptions.
Cllr Shailer says the major benefit of his first amendment, is that disabled users will have the first disabled access bus gate in the city, along with measures to add disabled access measures like parking along the street. He praises work of Cllr Bird to keep this high priority.
The officer raises the possibility of such a consultation going beyond December when the current ETRO runs out.
Councillor Derek Giles asks whether electric vehicles could be included too.
Councillor Derek Giles is keen to see blue badge exemptions. He expresses concern about the consultation to run on beyond the current experimental order.
Councillor Alex Beckett says that the purpose of the amendment is to allow the restriction to be retained but ensure there the chance to examine the disabled access and taxi access.
He says that re-opening the road tomorrow would send completely the wrong message on being able to examine the disabled access and taxi access. He notes there is already a whitelist for taxis, so blue badges could work the same.
Cllr Dupre says the amendment provides a sensible way to deal with the various issues that those on both sides of the debate have raised, and can solve the deficiencies of the scheme as was put in.
Cllr Mac Macguire says "this is one of the most difficult decisions we as councillors have had to make". He says referenda are not appropriate. He notes he visited Mill Road many years ago and became very familiar with it. "Damned if we do, damned if we don't."
Cllr Macguire prefers option B2 which is to reopen the bridge to traffic pending consultation.
The officer says that the exemptions could be problematic in practical implementation terms.
Here's a reminder of what the county Joint Agreement said about sustainable transport in Cambridge, by the way...
The amendment is now accepted into the main motion, 6 in favour, 1 against, 3 abstentions. (It basically proposes consulting on exemptions to the bus gate.)
Now onto the substantive debate.
The first councillor, a conservative [sorry, didn't catch name], is minded to vote for option 2, let traffic in while consult.
Cllr Giles notes Covid is not over, and says that the scheme has provided an ability to see what has worked, and what has not worked. He praises all the speakers. He thinks the amendment will find a way to help make a workable scheme.
Cllr Giles notes the dreadful bollards - the entire room, on both sides, laughs in agreement!
Cllr Dupre says having been here in the 80s, says that her driving instructor then took her to Mill Road, to show her how difficult it is to throw cars in such volume into what is a community street. Clearly, there need to be exemptions to the bus gate, she says.
She favours option 1 (keep in place temporarily while exempt), saying there are lots of options that can be consulted on, and we need to research these properly.
She wants to see some 'Can Do on all sides', to do it speedily, and deliver it properly.
Cllr Alex Beckett says the debate has been painful, especially his inbox is painful - and believes that the amendment will help bring consensus and bring people back together. He says that the original consultation was flawed.
He points out that reopening Mill Bridge won't solve the long-standing existing problems for residents. He says the streets in the area were never designed for the volume of traffic.

He is supporting option B1 on the basis that it provides a way forward, and also that work continues on other streets nearby.
Cllr Shailer notes how things that would be consulted on like timings, deliveries, exemptions, are firmly aimed at helping traders.
He reads out a moving testament from a disabled user who says how much Mill Road is currently improved for them - a street full of cars before did not help.
Cllr Shailer gives a speech linking the county agreement to the proposals. He noted the clear success by councillors in the elections who stood for reduced traffic - compared to the candidate who wanted the bridge reopened, but came last.
Cllr Fuller is concerned by the procedures in the amendment. He says he knows Mill Road well. He is concerned about the effect on other roads. He claims that most ETRO schemes around the country have been ripped out.
Vote is 7 (B1: keep closed, consult) - 7 (B2; reopen to traffic, consult). Chair Gerri Bird votes in favour of B2.

The bridge will reopen to 12,000 vehicles, while a consultation takes place on the future.

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27 Jul
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