Vow to fight on for bridge

Glen Sanderson, Eleanor George, Anne Morton and Jim Routledge at the bridge in Felton.
Glen Sanderson, Eleanor George, Anne Morton and Jim Routledge at the bridge in Felton.

A councillor has vowed to fight on for a bridge that he previously described as ‘almost held together by sticking plaster’.

In July, the Gazette reported that the condition of Felton bridge, on the boundary between Thirston and Felton, had been the target of complaints.

And Coun Glen Sanderson, whose ward covers the Thirston side, had taken up the issue.

The railings on either side of the bridge, which is used by pedestrians and vehicles, are suffering from peeling paint and rust, but in places tape, of a similar colour to the green railings, has been used.

At the time, resident Jim Routledge, who was born in Felton, described it as an ‘eyesore’ and a ‘bridge dying of shame’.

While Coun Anne Morton, a member of Thirston Parish Council, said that it was of particular concern for the schoolchildren who use the bridge, as ‘there’s a lot of rusting metal at children’s height’.

And Coun Sanderson, who did not blame the council or its officers, saying it was a money issue, admitted: “It will not be cheap, and progress will be slow because of the probable cost involved.”

Since then, he has been looking into whether he would be able to fund repairs from his members’ small schemes allowance, but he has been told that estimates put the cost in the region of £100,000. He described this as ‘not a surprise, but a disappointment’.

“My primary concern was to try to get some quicker action by finding money from my members’ small schemes allowance,” Coun Sanderson told the Gazette this week.

He raised the issue at the most recent full meeting of the county council and will be raising it again when the Local Transport Plan 2013/14 is discussed towards the end of the month.

He explained that the upkeep of the bridge was key, not just because it’s a valuable link between the communities of Felton and Thirston, but because a bridge that important should look good as well.

“That’s why I think it’s worth keeping making a fuss about it, so that something gets done,” he said.

“There cannot be a quick fix because it’s too big a job.

“It’s so sad that it’s been allowed to get into the state that it has.

“The sticking plaster will remain but hopefully not for too long.”

Felton ‘new’ bridge was built in 1927 at a cost of £12,000 to relieve traffic crossing the old stone bridge in the village.