Connaught bridge ‘not a lost cause’

07:17 20 December 2012

Walkway bridge. Picture by Alex Walton Ref shs 7953-30-11AW

Walkway bridge. Picture by Alex Walton Ref shs 7953-30-11AW

Archant

A bridge from Sidmouth’s Manor Road car park into Connaught Gardens is not a lost cause, writes Kingsley Squire.

That assurance was given this week by Freddy Wedderburn who, with colleague Brian Black, has been battling for 10 years to see one built to enable pedestrian and disabled access. It would end the hassle of mothers manhandling push chairs down the steps from the car park to cross Peak Hill Road into the gardens.

But the project, the duo told Sidmouth Men’s Forum, has been bedevilled by bureaucracy.

They were initially told by the county council there was a European Union directive that all bridges had to have a clearance of 18ft eight inches.

“Freddy and I then went out and took photos of 20 bridges all under 16ft on and around the A38 and A30,” said Mr Black. “We have been blasting the County Council with this information and we’ve had an apology from the head of highways that there is no European directive. But they don’t want another bridge of unsatisfactory height in the county.”

A response was now awaited following a meeting between the council leader and MP Hugo Swire. Mr Wedderburn, who drove the public appeal for the Clifton Walkway, said that a bridge builder consultee considered a straight across bridge could be constructed on level ground both sides of the road for an estimated £100,000.

“We are still very active with the project and we guarantee it is going to happen,” he said. “But we have got a fight on our hands. We already have charitable people who have offered to make donations and we are fairly satisfied that the cost will be covered.”

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