Eyebrows raised over �16,000 temporary footbridge scheme for dog walkers

QUESTIONS have been raised about whether it makes sense to spend thousands of pounds on a temporary footbridge for dog walkers.

A decision to submit plans for a pedestrian bridge over the ditch between Swan Meadow car park and Audley End Park was given the green light at a cabinet meeting last week.

However, Cllr Julie Redfearn, cabinet member for housing, did ask whether there was a more realistic solution that did not involve spending �16,000.

“It is my understanding the clearway order is a temporary measure,” she said.

“We have already spent �3,000 on signs for the clearway and now we are talking about having a one-year trial for this footbridge.

“There seems to be a lot of use of the word temporary.”

But Cllr Susan Barker, portfolio holder for the project, said although the clearway order was originally planned to be in place for a year, she believed long-term parking restrictions on Audley End Road needed to be carefully considered.

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And leader of the council Jim Ketteridge also allayed fears about the bridge proposal.

He said Audley End Estate had so far been very helpful and did not see why the footbridge could not provide a long-term solution to the traffic problem beyond the initial 12-month trial period.

Meanwhile, cabinet member for finance Cllr Robert Chambers said he was not overly concerned by the cost.

“I realise �16,000 seems a lot but it is not a great deal of money in today’s prices. I was expecting it to be quite a lot more – I am surprised how little it costs to build a bridge.”

The urban clearway order was put in place on Audley End Road back in March, primarily aimed at preventing cars parking outside one of the entrances to the park, Ice House Lodge.

However, the problem has spilled over into nearby Abbey Lane.

This has caused disruption to residents, 99 per cent of whom are pensioners, according to Cllr Chambers, and led to a number of complaints to councillors.

“It is not something people should have to accept,” Cllr Chambers said.

“We are hopeful the footbridge will not just be in place on a temporary basis but a long-term solution to the parking problem on Audley End Road and Abbey Lane.”