42 day deadline to save March town centre foot bridge or it will be closed permanently, warns Fenland Council
- Credit: Archant
Fenland Council has put forward a 42 day deadline to find the money to repair a March foot bridge or risk its permanent closure.
Cabinet met yesterday to discuss the crisis that has arisen over urgently needed repairs to the town foot bridge linking High Street and the library near the river.
A Fenland Council spokesman said the July 31 deadline was put in place because of the urgency of reaching a final decision.
The council considered three options and settled on a proposal to increase to £72,900 their portion of an estimated £140,000 estimate.
Snowmountain Mountain Enterprises own a small part of the bridge and have offered £25,000 but Fenland Council says that will still leave a shortfall of £42,292.
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Cabinet agreed to defer a decision to close the foot bridge “to enable further negotiations with the adjacent owner along with key stakeholders.”
Their spokesman added that because of the “urgent nature of this matter” cabinet had agreed to delegate the conclusion of talks to officers and senior cabinet members including the leader John Clark.
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The aim is “to ensure the bridge remains open and accessible in the long term. Should the agreements not be forthcoming by the end of July 2015 or the costs to Fenland Council are prohibitive a further report will be brought back to cabinet to close the foot bridge.”
This latter option was also considered, but temporarily postponed yesterday, and would involve closing the foot bridge on safety ground and spending £20,000 on “local enhancements”.
A third option would have involved reaching agreement with Snowmountain and bringing in other “key stakeholders” such as March Town Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to see if the extra cash could be found.
Estimates have rocketed from £55,000 to £140,000 in two years and the council wanted Snowmountain to pay £67,292 towards the cost, which it says relates to their portion of the link-way.
But John Skoulding of Snowmountain insists his company’s share of the bridge can easily be completed within £25,000.
He said: “I don’t know where they have got their figures from but I know we can do our repairs for less than £25,000. But we can’t do anything until the council makes a decision. Fenland council sent a letter splitting ownership of the bridge 60/40, which has not been agreed.”
Two years ago Fenland Council put aside £33,000 towards the £55,000 estimated repair bill with Snowmountain set to the pay the rest.
Mr Skoulding has insisted council officials to stick to a legal conveyance signed in 1979 land to maintain the town centre foot bridge.
Snowmountain Enterprises has the document relating to the land associated with the foot bridge and says part of the agreement was for the council to build a boundary wall and “forever after to maintain such boundary wall”.