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Councillor ridicules MP’s call to re-open Peterborough footbridges

‘How the heck can we possibly logically sensibly reasonably open these bridges?’

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A Peterborough councillor says the city council could not “logically sensibly reasonably” open footbridges which have been closed for safety reasons. Cllr John Fox said the 3 bridges at Cuckoos Hollow were closed in January following concerns about their structure were raised by him and other local councillors and confirmed by city council contractors.

And he admitted that “I really don’t know” why MP Paul Bristow is calling for the city council to disregard safety advice and re-open them.

“If you took your car to a reputable engineer for an MOT and he’s a qualified engineer who says that your car isn’t safe you shouldn’t be driving it,” said Cllr Fox.

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Cllr Sandra Bond, Cllr John Fox and Cllr Judy Fox at the bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, which MP Paul Bristow wants re-opened despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Cllr Sandra Bond, Cllr John Fox and Cllr Judy Fox at the bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, which MP Paul Bristow wants re-opened despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition. PHOTO: Terry Harris

“Would you then drive that car somewhere to a back street garage to get another check to get an MOT,” he said.

“If you did that you you’d be literally stupid because you wouldn’t be insured and if you had an accident you’d be very seriously before the judge.”

Cllr Fox, one of the ward councillors for Werrington, said he met with other councillors, including those from neighbouring Gunthorpe, to consider the state of the bridges.

They agreed the bridges were “a bit shaky” and were concerned enough to invite ask for an immediate inspection by the city council.

Officers came and inspected it and “they discovered it was worse than we thought it was and they closed the bridges”.

CambsNews asked Cllr Fox that if, as the inspection found, the bridges are rotting away and too weak to sustain the numbers using them, what did he think could happen if they were suddenly re-opened?

“Opening them now would be very illogical and very irresponsible,” he said.

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

“It’s a bit like other issues going on (he referred to Mr Bristow’s call for the regional pool to re-open) and if the council did allow the bridge to re-open and “say a load of people went over and it collapsed, and they were seriously injured, who would they sue?.

“How the heck can we possibly logically sensibly reasonably open these bridges.”

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

Cllr Fox said local councillors were doing their best and the issue would be raised again next week to discuss funding for repairs but mainly for replacement.

“We’re going to not just replace the bridges eventually, but even more improvements are planned,” he said.

“We’re getting there and we’re working together for a common cause and that’s to get these bridges reopened as fast as possible and make sure those bridges are a lot better than the ones we have got,” he said.

“They will be a lot wider I have to say that but that’s to comply with the LTM 120 (Government guidance or cycling and footpaths) and that’s what we’re trying to do.

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

“These will be the smartest bridges and will last 120 years rather than 40 or 50 years like these have.”

CambsNews quizzed Cllr Fox about the MP’s petition to get the bridges re-opened and asked if there was a quick and easy fix to enable that to happen as Mr Bristow seems to imply?

“It wouldn’t be logical would it,” said Cllr Fox. “It’s like his campaign to open up the regional pool. Would a responsible council allow people to go and use that pool when there’s a possibility of brick work falling on your head?. Would we be insured? I don’t think there would be many people who would want to insure us.”

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So, was the MP then stirring the political pot?

“I’m not going to comment on that,” said Cllr Fox. “I’m not going to get political and I’m not going to start attacking people.

“What I will say is quite simple and that is all these problems that he highlights and brings to the fore have not happened overnight or since we took over the administration at the council.

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

“This has been going on for years – remember this bridge was mentioned three years ago?.”

Looking forward to May how did Cllr Fox view the outcome of the local elections.

Was he confident the current administration that took control of the council in November are doing a good job and were residents noticing any improvements?

Cllr Fox said: “I’ve been a councillor for 22 years and I will say this from the bottom of my heart.

“I have never ever known such cooperation.”

Those now running the council – all with different political views – were working together for the good of the people of Peterborough.

“What more do people want? We’re not putting politics first; we’re putting people first and that’s not one of our strap lines but it’s true.”

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

Earlier this year Cllr Gavin Elsey, cabinet member for infrastructure, environment, and climate change, said the level of deterioration at the bridge exceeds any margin of safety that would have been incorporated in the original bridge design.

“This will eventually mean that the structures have insufficient capacity to carry the loads applied to it, creating a risk of collapse,” he said.

Cllr Elsey said temporary fixes were too expensive which was why the city council is working on designs for replacement bridges.

“The bridges are now at the point where they are presenting an unreasonable public health and safety risk, hence why we took the decision to close them.”

He added: “It is not possible to say when a collapse might happen, however, given the rate of deterioration, our utmost priority is to maintain public safety and remove pedestrian access.”

He said temporary fixes were deemed to be too expensive.

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

MP Paul Bristow has called for bridges at Cuckoos Hollow, Peterborough, to re-open despite warnings for public safety over their poor condition.

Meanwhile the Peterborough Telegraph reported this week that Mr Bristow is launching a petition to speed up reopening of the footbridges.

The MP claims the bridges were closed without consulting the residents and claimed the city council “has uncritically accepted the worst-case scenario and this is why they are all closed.

“It should have got a second opinion about whether it would be possible to repair two of them while keeping one open”.

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