Campaigners fighting to save the historic stone arch Boxal Bridge between Kirdford and Wisborough Green have accused West Sussex County Council (WSCC) of taking the decision to demolish it without listening to them.
They are now lobbying county councillors to ‘call in’ the decision so a full public debate can be held before it is set in stone. They are urging them to act quickly as there are only five days left to challenge the decision.
“We believe our WSCC representative should listen to our concerns and give support to residents and voters over this situation,” said a spokesman for the Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green campaign group.
She said KKWG had asked for maintenance costs over the last ten years: “ We are of the opinion that nothing very much has been spent on maintenance. All that has been done is desk top studies and possibly site inspections.”
The cost to demolish the bridge had been quoted as well over £400,000, she said, but independent quotes KKWG had received to repair the present bridge which was still structurally sound, were around £35,000: “A huge difference with the money better spent on repairing various roads.”
Campaigners say it is a community asset in the Kirdford Neighbourhood Plan, listed as a heritage asset in Chichester District plan and a petition to save it in 2015 attracted 3,376 signatures. “At the time WSCC pledged to work closely with our parish councils to explore the safest and most acceptable future of the bridge.”
But, she said, the decision to demolish it flew in the face of these promises.
A KKWG call for an advisory group had been rejected she said: “This is a great shame as the wishes of residents are being ignored.”
But WSCC said the bridge had significant structural defects and a study revealed replacement would be the best solution: “Engineers are working on potential designs for the new bridge now, rather than waiting until urgent action is needed on the ageing structure and traffic weight restrictions have to be imposed for safety reasons,” said a spokesman.
Cllr Bob Lanzer, cabinet member for highways said the council was committed to work with Kirdford and Wisborough Green parish councils to develop as close a match as possible.
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