Challenge to £55,000 price tag to replace Ottery footbridge following bid rejection

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:52 23 January 2019

The site of the former bridge at The Tumbling Weir. Ref sho 03 19TI 8526. Picture: Terry Ife

The site of the former bridge at The Tumbling Weir. Ref sho 03 19TI 8526. Picture: Terry Ife

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Tighter budgets will mean the Land of Canaan footbridge will not be replaced, despite queries over the cost of £55,000.

The site of the former bridge at The Tumbling Weir. Ref sho 03 19TI 8520. Picture: Terry IfeThe site of the former bridge at The Tumbling Weir. Ref sho 03 19TI 8520. Picture: Terry Ife

Ottery district and town councillors have challenged the price tag after the latest bid was recommended for rejections - as a previous submission was estimated at £18,000 - more than three times less.

The bridge, which crossed over the Mill Leat, was removed in 2017 by East Devon District Council - who did not replace it due to a second bridge 80 metres away.

Following an unsuccessful bid to replace the bridge that year, the council made a second submission which was again recommended for reject by EDDC’s capital strategy and allocation group.

But, the group has recommended £84,500 to be spent on the ‘essential’ replacing of bins and a further £40,000 to trial robotic lawn mowers - among 24 other success projects.

Only one other project alongside the bridge was rejected.

Ottery town and district councillors Peter Faithfull and Roger Giles said the cost seemed ‘excessive’ and ‘outrageous’.

Cllr Faithfull told last week’s council meeting he had contacted manufacturers across the country to clarify the price and found a kit that could be assembled on site for £3,000.

He said: “I don’t even know where the first figure came from but for £55,000 for a footbridge, you seriously start to question, if that’s how far out [they are] with the footbridge, how many of the other figures are so far out when you have the budget to deal with.”

An EDDC spokesman says the estimated amount quoted covered the size and quality of the bridge and allowed for additional works such as access and footings for the new structure.

The spokesman said: “The most recent budget submission was made on the basis of a second footbridge with sufficient width and ramps to enable access by all users, and of a sufficient height above the Mill Leat to ensure that it does not create additional flood risk. Both these requirements are more onerous than the previous narrow footbridge, hence the increase in the budget estimate.

“Other nonessential bids were also turned down through the budget setting process, as we have to scrutinise and prioritise our spend carefully as budgets continue to get tighter.”

EDDC’s joint overview and scrutiny committee met to discuss the proposals this week before the bids will be approved at a future meetin

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