On 4 November, members of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways & Transport Committee voted in favour of a proposal for a further consultation on the Mill Road bus gate scheme but added an amendment making clear that this should be done as soon as possible. A timetable for the consultation process, along with recommendations for ‘quick win’ improvements to the street will be presented at the next meeting of the committee on 7 December. Action on Mill Road is needed urgently as high levels of traffic and dangerous driving behaviour are returning to the street, making it unsafe and unpleasant for residents along with people walking, cycling and visiting the unique businesses on Mill Road.
Those in attendance at the council meeting, including speakers from Camcycle and local independent campaign group Mill Road For People, were united in agreement that a new consultation must happen as quickly as possible and not wait to be integrated into the wider detailed consultation on the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s City Access scheme in summer 2022. The proposal to consider Mill Road as part of a holistic look at city transport was welcomed, but committee members said they needed to do what they had promised and review the Mill Road scheme in a timely manner.
The committee approved officers’ recommendations that the consultation on Mill Road and delivery of the scheme should be delegated to the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), but added an amendment that the GCP should expedite the public consultation. GCP Transport Director Peter Blake agreed to accept this challenge and a new consultation is expected early in the new year.
Conservative councillor Mac McGuire, who proposed the amendment said: “I fully support those who are arguing that the Mill Road consultation takes place as quickly as possible … We owe it to the whole of the city and specifically to those who are directly affected by Mill Road to get this underway as quickly as possible.” Labour councillor Neil Shailer, representing Romsey, said any delay would “only be damaging” and LibDem Chair of the committee Peter McDonald said that “inputs from the previous consultation must not – and will not – be lost.”
The other councillors representing the city – Cllr Alex Beckett and Cllr Gerri Bird – agreed that the consultation must be carried out as a matter of urgency. Cllr Beckett said the new consultation should not be about “opening the debate on whether [the bus gate scheme] is there or not, but more how we deal with the concerns that people had,” including those raised by Cllr Bird on access for disabled people. Officers confirmed at the meeting that the forthcoming new powers available to councillors under the Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 will enable them to create a more flexible scheme in future with exemptions for groups such as blue badge holders.
Camcycle strongly welcomes the decision to expedite the consultation and thanks councillors for their support of ‘quick-win’ improvements while the full consultation is underway. We are keen to see a properly-planned, holistic scheme (rather than a bus gate without any associated measures) and there is plenty that can be done immediately to urgently address current safety concerns and help create a street that is a thriving and pleasant place to live, work, travel and shop.