Police bridge call-out is just batty

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MAJOR restructuring work on a north Northumberland bridge was put in jeopardy when police received a report of concern for a bat colony.

Northumberland County Council has been carrying out extensive restructuring on Rothbury’s road bridge as part of a multi-million pound project.

But last Thursday, two police officers and an ecologist arrived at the site after reports that bats had been sealed into the bridge.

The three arrived on site at 2pm and asked staff a number of questions relating to the county council’s licence from Natural England for working in and around bat roosts. They also took a look under the bridge – although one of the officers had a bat phobia.

After much discussion, they left the site just over two hours later.

Rothbury and Coquetdale county councillor Steven Bridgett said: “The county council has spent nearly £1million extra jumping through some of the bureaucratic hoops laid down by organisations such as English Heritage, Natural England and the Environment Agency regarding the bridge, one of them being to ensure the protection of bat colonies that live within the bridge.

“So for someone to make a complaint that clearly has no foundation is not only disappointing, but the fact Northumbria Police acted on this, which including hiring their own ecologist at the taxpayer’s expense, to come and investigate is nothing more than a gross waste of public money, especially when they could have arranged a meeting with our own on-site ecologist.”

A county council spokeswoman said: “Police, together with an ecologist, attended the site where works to the Rothbury bridge are being undertaken to investigate reports that bats had been sealed into the bridge by our works.

“Officers from the county council indicated where the bat roosts were located and explained the manner of the works being carried out and confirmed that no bats had been sealed into the bridge.

“The county council has a licence from Natural England for working in and around the bat roosts and confirmed that all works in and around the bat roosts had been completed last year as stated on this licence.”

Northumbria Police confirmed that they received a report of concern for a colony of bats which roost on the bridge.