Finchingfield Bridge reopens after a week of “chaos”

Finch Bridge

Finch Bridge - Credit: Archant

Finchingfield Bridge has reopened after being closed for a week and massive distress among residents.

Villagers described chaos after the bridge was closed last Tuesday (October 27) after a lorry crashed into the building next to it.

Since then, two more lorries have crashed into ditches trying to negotiate country lanes – in a bid to avoid the 15-mile diversion - and this week the surface of the bridge was dug up for investigations leading to fears that it would stay closed for some time.

Meanwhile, Braintree MP James Cleverly has been demanding a temporary bridge be errected as soon as possible. Especially since the bridge is due to close for four months next year, which residents say will cut off one of most visited villages in Britain.

Mr Cleverly’s Parliamentary assistant, Mo Metcalf-Fisher, said: “We are pushing as much as we can. This is a daily operation and our top priority. We will not give up. We can see the closure of the bridge has had a knock on effect on the whole of that part of the constituency.”

In the past week, without the bridge, Finchingfield businesses say their takings have halved.

At Jesmond’s Garage, owner Terry Raymond, who has had the business for 28 years, said on Tuesday he had cut the hours of his forecourt attendant.

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“Normally the place is buzzing, but we’ve had just two customers this morning. I’ve had to stop petrol deliveries. There is not a lot of money on petrol sales, it’s a service for the community but we are missing the footfall to the shop. If people find somewhere else to get petrol this could become a habit and we won’t get that business back.”

At the Three Tuns, publican Michael Stone, said: “We sold six meals on Sunday, normally, we are full and serve 40. Numbers were down for our Hallowe’en parties and our Monday grill night. If this is anything to go by, we will be in serious financial trouble if the bridge is closed next year from July to November.”

At the Red Lion, where village meetings have been arranged for Tuesday, (November 10) landlady Elaine Rollings said: “It’s been very quiet.”

Neville Thomas, from CRH Plant in Witham said: “We can’t say whether it was our lorry which crashed into the bridge or not. The matter is in the hands of our solicitors and insurers.”

Finchingfield Resisdents are campaigning for a temporary bridge to carry them through next year’s closure. There will be two strategy meetings at The Red Lion on Tuesday, November 10, one at 6.30pm and one at 8.30pm. These are in preparation for a public meeting called by Finchingfield Parish Council on Tuesday, November 17 at 6.30pm at Finchingfield Village Hall.