72% Dance for Action!

Last Saturday morning the 21st October, hundreds of supporters of Mill Road for People braved the poor weather to take part in a dancing procession, starting from Donkey Common and ending at Mill Road Bridge, where we were entertained by Colonel Spanky’s Love Ensemble.

Liz Walter (MR4P Comms Officer) addressed the crowd at the start, and Paul Lythgoe (Chair) and 15-year old Winter Glennon at the end. Winter’s powerful speech highlighted the often ignored needs of teenagers whose freedom to move around the city by bike is severely compromised by unsafe roads.

En route, we danced to tunes from 1972 and wore clothes from that era to hammer home the message that 72% of respondents to last year’s consultation supported traffic restrictions on the bridge.

The procession highlighted the massive level of local support for these restrictions and to urge the County Council to begin the part of the project concerned with safety works without further delay. Marchers handed leaflets to passers-by explaining our event – and we’ve already had a stream of new signed-up supporters.

In particular, our event aimed to urge the County Council to proceed with the safety works that the so-called ‘Friends of Mill Road Bridge’ tried unsuccessfully to block in court, at great expense to both themselves and the taxpayer.

Paul Lythgoe, chair of MR4P says, ‘Despite the efforts of a small, unrepresentative group, the court has now ruled that the safety works can go ahead. It is unconscionable that the County Council would further delay this work in one of the most dangerous areas of the most dangerous street in Cambridgeshire.’

Local residents have consistently voted for councillors who share MR4P’s vision of a cleaner, safer, more accessible street and against pro-car candidates, and two consultations have shown support for traffic restrictions on the bridge, the second one by a huge margin, with 72% in favour.

There is extensive evidence that low-traffic neighbourhoods are beneficial for local trade as well as providing social and health benefits.

It is beyond frustrating that a small group, who refuse even to name their members or explain who they are representing, are seeking to pervert the democratic will and wasting many thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money in the process.

Vice chair of MR4P, Katie Hawks says, ‘Every month that goes by without the bus gate is another month of congestion, pollution and danger for pedestrians and cyclists on a street that has never been designated an arterial route in the Local Plan, and which could and should be a pleasant residential and shopping area.’

Background Information

The Mill Road Bridge bus gate is a proposed traffic calming measure that would prohibit private motor vehicles from crossing Mill Road Bridge while allowing access for buses, pedestrians, cyclists, emergency vehicles, taxis, and blue badge holders.

A majority of local residents support traffic restrictions on the bridge, as evidenced by two public consultations. The first consultation was disregarded because of widespread fraud, predominantly by opponents of the bus gate. In the second, 72% of respondents supported such restrictions.

The bus gate will improve air quality, reduce congestion, and make Mill Road a safer and more pleasant place to walk, cycle, and shop.

A protest group calling itself  ‘Friends of Mill Rd Bridge’ has taken legal action to delay or prevent the implementation of the bus gate. The nature of this group is murky – on the one hand they have a signed constitution which says: ‘Membership of the Group is open to all who support the Objects of the Group and have applied for membership of the Group.’ On the other hand, they claim publicly to be an exclusive group of 4, with only their leader Pamela Wesson bringing the legal action.

An initial ruling, made last week, overturned their application to halt the part of the TRO relating to safety works (a traffic island and pavement widening). It also refused to cap Ms Wesson’s costs. However, it did order the CC to delay implementation of the actual bus gate until after a full hearing on the case.