Public ‘should have say’ over footbridge

footbridge next to town bridge. and Acre road alley. Picture: Steve Williams.

footbridge next to town bridge. and Acre road alley. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Concern has been raised over the estimated cost of repairing a March footbridge which has risen from £55,000 to £140,000 in two years.

The bridge, which links High Street with West End Park, is threatened with closure because of the cost of repairs; March councillors are calling for public consultation over its potential loss.

Fenland District Council shares ownership of the bridge with Snowmountain Enterprises and in 2013 set aside £33,000 to cover its share of the repair costs. However, they were never completed and since then the council has had four estimates. The latest quote in November was for £140,192.14.

Cabinet will decide on Thursday to either pay £72,900 towards the repairs with Snowmountain contributing £25,000 and the rest being sought from other authorities or to close it.

Councillor Jan French, former chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee, said: “How have the costs spiralled to over £140,000. “That bridge is a vital link for people and there should be public consultation before any decision is made to close it.”

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She pointed out an alternative access to West End via a passageway between 7 and 9 High Street is not wide enough for mobility scooters..

Councillor Kit Owen said: “They are doing a ‘belt and braces job’ so the bridge will take a disproportionate amount of weight, which isn’t necessary.”

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Officers insist there is not a “do nothing” option as the bridge is dangerous and it remaining open beyond August depends on a structural engineer’s inspection.

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