Anger over plan to demolish bridge
7:30am Friday 25th October 2013 in Latest News
A bridge linking Haydon Wick to the countryside is being removed by the council despite calls to save it.
Haydon Wick Parish Council is appealing to residents to object to Swindon Council’s proposal to remove the bridge that spans the River Ray.
The footway provides access to Mouldon Hill Country Park, as well as uniting fields adjacent to Oakhurst and Berrymans Wood at Purton.
Swindon Council plans to spend £15,000 demolishing the structure.
Parish council chairman Richard Hailstone said the bridge was on a well-trodden path and the council had a duty to maintain paths for people.
“Although this bridge is no longer on a definite route, some 10 years ago the land was handed over to a private landlord; lots of people use it,” said Richard.
“From our point of view we think the council should spend the money on restoring the bridge rather than removing it.”
The owner had put up a notice informing people they were allowed to use the land, which then leads on to a public footpath.
“The bridge is a solid, well-engineered and viable bridge at the end of a well-used path,” added Richard.
“The council should be actively promoting new footpaths, particularly those that take pedestrians from urban areas toward the country park.”
Coun Emma Faramarzia, who represents the Priory Vale ward in which the bridge stands, said: “I am aware of the bridge and that it is really unsafe. Officers have been investigating the bridge at great lengths. They have concluded that it should be removed. It is not used by that many people – it is not cost effective to have it replaced.
“The right and the correct way for the parish council to raise their worries is to contact the wards councillors directly. I have had no correspondence from them in any way.”
A council spokesman said: “This bridge sits on private land, and there hasn’t been a public right of way across it for over 10 years. “The structure is not safe and is beyond economic repair. The problem is being made worse by erosion of the river bank on both sides. The cost of removing the bridge will be £15,000, much less than it would cost to rebuild it. “In any case it makes no sense for the council to spend public money maintaining or rebuilding a bridge which people no longer have any legal right to cross, and isn’t on land that it owns. “We understand the route is well used, but there is an alternative link into Mouldon Hill provided by the path running along the east side of the railway.”
The cost of repairing the bridge would be three times as much as demolishing it and simple pedestrian bridges cost £35,000 to install, without the riverbank stabilisation needed in this case. The parish council is appealing to residents to call 01793 722446 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if they agree that the path should remain as a right of way. Alternatively, call ward councillors Emma Faramarzi on 07983 972630 or Toby Elliott on 07940 740401.
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