Despite strike threat by bridge workers, council chiefs promise ‘contingency plans’ to keep Lincs swing bridge open

Cross Keys Bridge, Sutton Bridge. Picture: Ian Burt

Cross Keys Bridge, Sutton Bridge. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

COUNCIL bosses today pledged to keep Cross Keys Swing Bridge in Sutton Bridge open next week even though workers who normally look after it will be on strike.

The council said it had “contingency plans” to keep road and river traffic flowing.

It had been feared that Wisbech would be plunged into chaos with an extra 17,000 vehicles passing through the town if the bridge closed.

But Paul Coatup, Lincolnshire County Council’s assistant director of highways and transportation, said: “We are preparing our contingency plans but presently do not expect there will be too much disruption for motorists.

“The bridge will generally remain open to road traffic and we fully expect to be able to accommodate river traffic too.

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“There may be some inconvenience for leisure boats travelling through, but we will work hard to keep this to a minimum.”

The council says one issue unresolved is Unison’s insistence the bridge workers get paid for rest breaks which no other employee gets.

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A council spokesman said: “It is very disappointing to see that Unison subsequently decided to strike and not take up our offer of returning to the dispute procedure.”

Public services union UNISON says bridge keepers will walk out at midnight on Saturday and will stay out for a week.

The strike action follows an ongoing dispute over proposed changes to bridge keepers’ terms and conditions, which the union says will result in a 13.5 per cent loss in take home pay.

The council says Unison has got the pay figures wrong “and the enhanced gross pay for a bridge operator was approaching double the figure quoted.”

Unison says two bridge keepers earn £18,453 a year and the bridge supervisor earns £22,958 a year and need their weekend enhancements to make ends meet.

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