Campaign to make Northumberland bridge accessible for wheelchairs, scooters and pushchairs

A campaign calling for bridge works to be carried out to make it accessible for all has been launched in a Northumberland village.

Sunday, 10th November 2019, 4:43 pm
Updated Sunday, 10th November 2019, 4:45 pm
Lesbury Parish Council has launched an appeal to improve the bridge which crosses the River Aln at Steppey Lane. Picture by Colin Platt.

Lesbury Parish Council has launched the appeal for improvements at the bridge over the River Aln at Steppey Lane.

There are currently steps leading on to it so the ambition is to install a ramp on both sides to make it wheelchair, scooter and pushchair accessible.

Coun Jean Humphrys explained: “When we consulted local people about improvements they wanted us to put into the Neighbourhood Development Plan, improvements to the Steppey Lane Bridge were top of the agenda. We thought we should try to do something about that.

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“A ramp of some sort to both sides of the bridge will allow wheelchair and mobility scooter users to cross the bridge. In this day and age people should not have limited access to local amenities.

“Currently they are unable to negotiate the steps. Even with someone to help they would have to get out of the wheelchair/scooter and lug it up steps on one side of the bridge and down steps on the other. Parents with pushchairs, bikes and so forth really struggle to get up and down the steps.”

The bridge links residential areas of central Lesbury and its amenities including Post Office, church, pub and village hall to the school at Hipsburn and residential areas on the Steppey Lane side.

“The alternative route is along the main A1068, which is a very busy road,” explained Coun Humphrys. “The road has no pavement on one side near the millennium style bridge so it means that pedestrians and wheelchair/scooter users have to try to cross the road twice whichever direction they are travelling in.”

Northumberland County Council has carried out a feasibility study recently and the parish council is awaiting news of what improvements could be made. It will then set out a fund-raising strategy.

However, it is estimated the work would cost in the region of £90,000. The parish council aims to contribute to the cost but will also need to raise funds from elsewhere and is keen to get support from the wider community and access grant funding.