A bridge too far for council

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PARISH councillors have criticised English Heritage for their interference with plans to repair a bridge in their north Northumberland village.

At the monthly meeting of Rothbury Parish Council last Wednesday, Peter Brewis, the project manager for Northumberland County Council, unveiled an altered design for the repairs after English Heritage objected to the original plans.

He also detailed the temporary bridge and one-way system that would operate during the repairs as well as confirming that work would begin in April, or March if funds were available earlier.

The parish council did not have any objections to the proposals for the one-way system but were angry at the changes apparently forced upon them by English Heritage.

Coun Jeff Reynalds said: “English Heritage are coming across as ignorant, bigoted vandals.”

Coun Mark Gilson said the decision should rest with the village and not English Heritage.

Chairman Coun Peter Dawson added: “We have only one opportunity to get this right. We have had some monstrosities over the years.”

It was agreed that the parish council would write to the relevant secretary of state and Sir Alan Beith MP about the issue.

While the work is carried out, a temporary Bailey bridge, which is only wide enough for one stream of traffic, will be used.

Queues of traffic could block the narrow parts of Bridge Street so a one-way system will be in place through the village.

Traffic crossing the bridge from the village side will travel along Bridge Street while from the south side of the river, vehicles crossing the bridge will go up Haw Hill and Church Street.

One problem caused by this new route is that some on-street parking is lost so that HGVs are able to get through.

The county propose to ease this issue by allowing staff from the doctor’s surgery and local businesses as well as residents of Haw Hill to park in the Cow Haugh car park for free.

The fire service are also to be given access to an override switch so that they are able to cross the bridge in an emergency.

Councillors raised concerns about traffic problems during village events such as the street fair but Mr Brewis assured members that there was flexibility for special events.