Monday, 20 May 2019

Walkers unhappy at delay in repairs to river crossing

Walkers unhappy at delay in repairs to river crossing

A PATH that runs along the River Thames near Henley is still closed with a pedestrian bridge still awaiting repair six months after it collapsed.

Buckinghamshire County Council, which is responsible for the path on the western bank near Fawley Court, off Marlow Road, had hoped to carry our repairs last month.

Now the council says the bridge is being “prioritised” as the weather has improved and workmen are expected on site “in the next few weeks”.

The narrow wooden bridge, which crosses an inlet and is only wide enough for one person, snapped in half in November.

Residents living nearby as well as walkers are unhappy at the time it has taken for repairs to be carried out and say they have no choice but to walk along a busy road instead.

A walker, who lives in Fawley, told the Henley Standard: “It should be noted that this is the only safe walking route between Henley and Hambleden along the River Thames and has been used for decades by residents and tourists alike.

“A number of people, including myself, have been walking this route on a daily basis for many years and although I understand that bridges need repair and maintenance, I am starting to become concerned that the council appear to be ignoring the problem and that no remedial action appears to have taken place.

“The council is forcing people to take an unsafe alternative route via the Marlow Road, which has no footpath, and has a national speed limit. Members of the public are, through no fault of their own, trespassing through private property in the hope of finding safe passage.”

They added: “In addition to the beautiful weather, Henley Royal Regatta and Henley Festival are round the corner and the number of people who would be using this footpath is going to increase exponentially thus increasing the risk of a tragic accident.”

Mandy Butler, who also lives in Fawley, says the repairs need to be done as soon as possible. She said: “My family have used the walk way many times over the years (as do many others) and we were hoping that it would be repaired in time for the spring and summer but when we went down recently we noted that it was still out of use.

“The only other option is to walk along the main highway and sadly a large part of the Marlow Road does not have a pathway at all which makes this route very dangerous for pedestrians.”

In January, Henley town councillor Donna Crook was one of several people who reported the bridge was sagging in the months before the collapse.

Journalist Mikey Harvey, who regularly walks his dog along the path, said: “It is very annoying and I’ve seen a few indignant ramblers walk around the moat into the grounds [of Fawley Court].”

A spokesman for the council said access to the bridge could only be obtained across private land and it was impossible to carry out repairs without damaging the land during the wetter months.

He added: “Now the land is drying out, the repair can be prioritised. The contractor who will carry out the work has the job listed for action in the next few weeks; however a definitive date has not yet been set for the work to commence.”

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