Friday, 12 February 2010

A dangerous bridge and a bridge too far

The monthly meeting of Swaffham Prior Parish Council had a fairly 'light' agenda and I looked to getting home by 10 p.m. at the latest. However ......

Our County Councillor, David Brown, was absent due to having a London meeting (the Local Government Association, I guess, and, as a former member of the Association of County Councils, I know that those meetings can go on, too). And, he being absent, I was reluctant to attack the County Council again regarding the decrepit and, in my opinion, dangerous state of the Reach Road railway bridge. Cllr. Brown had asked for 'expert officer' opinion and the 'expert officer' who had been asked for his opinion, said in an E-mail to Cllr. Brown, and I quote: 'I am sorry that you have had to endure some pressure from locals over this issue.'

This was like a red rag to a bull, and, having seen the relevant E-Mail, I had written to Cllr. Brown as follows, 'That is not the best of officer comments that I have seen.'

However, trading insults gets us nowhere and, having yesterday morning taken some photographs (as above) of the underside of the bridge arch and the road over the top, complete with a number 10 Stagecoach bus, and showing clearly the dip in the road over the bridge - surely indicative of the bridge and the road having sunk, either because of the recent leak from the water main or from heavy loads traversing the bridge over many years, it was asked and everybody agreed that our Council should obtain a proper report - in writing - regarding the safety or otherwise of the bridge. We cannot run the risk of, say, a bus load of people coming to serious harm by this bridge collapsing. In my opinion, the County Council, as Highway Authority, needs urgently to re-examine the structure and either to take remedial action or to demolish the bridge completely before the brickwork collapses. I said again that I believed that the road should be closed immediately to all traffic. I am not at all keen to drive over the bridge in my own car unless and until remedial action or demolition takes place, nor am I keen for heavy traffic or, most worrying of all, buses with children or adults in them, to continue using the bridge.

Another interesting debate following a request for a name for the new housing development off Mill Hill. Martin Mead and Kim Sheldrick are doing the developing and, noting the fact that names of living people are not permitted for road or street names, I put forward the suggestion that the development might bear the name 'Sheldrick Mead' in order to commemorate two respected Swaffham Prior stalwarts, Messrs. Bob Sheldrick and Dick Mead, the respective late fathers of the developers themselves. However, it was agreed that the development might better be named Tower Close. I have no problem with that as it on the old water tower site.

Finally, our Chairman, Mr John Covill (also pictured), reported that he understood that the National Trust's controversial new bridge over Reach Lode is soon to be constructed and that, in order for this to be effected, a 500-ton crane has to be taken to the site. Not only is it to be a bridge too far, but it also appears that the construction works are to be disruptive and, I guess, much more expensive than the National Trust has let on. We shall see.

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