Lone moorhen calls a halt to North Bank bridge rebuilding plan

A LONE moorhen sits nestling on her young oblivious to the mayhem around her which has brought a massive bridge rebuilding contract to a shuddering halt.

It means a 22-week contract to replace the crumbling bridge on a key Fenland road could be extended to allow for Mother Nature to take its course.

Whilst motorists fume at the inconvenience, the moorhen nests serenely alongside Northey Gravel bridge delaying work on this route through from Whittlesey to Peterborough.

The closure has angered Whittlesey councillors who were not told in advance of the closure.

Councillor Peter Hiller, the Peterborough City Council Cabinet member for communities, admitted it was an “oversight by the street works co-ordinator”.


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Councillor Derek Stebbing, Mayor of Whittlesey, said he had been told work could not even begin until the moorhen had flown her coop.

“The problem is wildlife laws which prevent the dispersal of birds when they are nesting,” he said.

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He said the closure of North Bank, which links into the bridge, was already destined to cause massive inconvenience.

“This road is a natural short cut whether you are planning a shopping trip to Fengate or heading into the city centre,” he said.

“Traffic has to go onto the A605 through Stanground and join the queue or go direct to Thorney and join the A47,” he said. “It means a 10 to 15 minute journey into Peterborough can be multiplied several times.”

With schools now off and traffic relatively calm he predicted August would be “the best it’s going to get” until the work is finished.

Cllr Hiller said the delay “is the kind of price you have for having such a wonderful area for wildlife”.

He had been told that once contractors were on site it was impracticable to withdraw them and “the money for the work is ring fenced so if we leave the work too much longer we may not get it”.

He said it was “essential remedial work not cosmetic” which needed to be done.

He also promised Whittlesey councillors he would see “if we can complete the work a lot sooner than the 22 weeks”.

Meanwhile, police have warned anyone caught contravening the temporary road closure will be issued with a �30 fixed penalty ticket.

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