BRIDGE: Value is overlooked

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Of course, austerity cuts impose difficult decisions on councils.

The work to bring three empty buildings on the north side of Northumberland Square back into residential use will certainly enhance this conservation area.

But its hefty £5.6million price tag contrasts sharply with the savings anticipated in the proposal to demolish, rather than repair, the historic Borough Road footbridge.

This imposing bridge combines utility, amenity and accessibility for disabled and special-needs users, with its heritage value an important contributor to the character and distinctiveness of the New Quay conservation area.

The council’s struggle to find a point on the steep Borough Road hill for a ground-level pedestrian crossing to serve disabled users and cyclists ignores the bridge’s heritage value, including the amenity of the views from bank top level as compared to crossing at street level.

Use of the bridge will undoubtedly increase with 850 new homes planned in Smiths Dock.

The council should be promoting, not just sporadically enabling, alternative healthier, less polluting travel modes than the car.

With climate catastrophe looming in a much shorter timeframe, its concern with the costs of maintaining the bridge for 40-plus years after repair could be misplaced.

It also implies the unwelcome presumption that austerity cuts to local public spending will go on indefinitely.

Carol Hawkins

North Shields