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Opposition grows to £1.3m bridge bid
PLANS for a £1.3m suspension bridge across the Tees are facing growing opposition, town councillors were told this week.
During an open forum at Barnard Castle Town Council’s monthly meeting, resident Jo Angell challenged members to make their views known on plans for the bridge and an accompanying viewing platform.
If it goes ahead, Durham County Council officials estimate it will attract an extra 29,000 visitors a year to the town.
However, Mrs Angell told town councillors: “I have spoken to many people about the suspension bridge and only two of those are in favour.
“Everyone else thinks it is a waste of money and inappropriate.
There is a lot of opposition in the town on the question of the suspension bridge.
“Surely a better way to use taxpayers’ money would be to provide a relief road to take lorries from the town,” she said.
Deputy mayor, Councillor John Blissett, said the town council expected to be formally consulted on the bridge, if and when a planning application was made, and the council’s views would be made known then.
He said the council had stated its support for a relief road at a meeting in July and would discuss the issue again next week as part of a larger debate on the Durham County Plan.
Councillor Newton Wood said the rope bridge and relief road plans provoked a lot of emotion in people, but both needed to be considered from a purely planning point of view.
“You have to prove the need for a relief road and you can only reject the rope bridge on planning issues, not emotional issues,” he said.
Councillor John Watson said it was not possible to make an informed decision on the suspension bridge plan because a number of detailed reports, such as that into how the traffic generated by the extra visitors would be managed, had been made public.
“Until then, we cannot make a judgement,” he said.
Councillor Thom Robinson said that if the level of opposition to the bridge was as strong as indicated by Mrs Angell, now was the time for action.
“Now is the time to discuss it and mount a campaign against it. The more money that is spent on planning and infrastructure, the more likely it is to go ahead.”
But he added: “If it is going to go ahead, I want to see it work for the town, including parking.”
A week-long public consultation exercise into the 265- metre single span bridge proposal, held at venues throughout Barnard Castle, ended on Monday and once all comments have been reviewed a planning application could be submitted by the end of next month.