Nearly 3,000 sign petition to boost Finchingfield Bridge campaign

Campaigners at Finchingfield Bridge

Campaigners at Finchingfield Bridge - Credit: Archant

Placards were held right across Finchingfield Bridge on Monday declaring how many people had signed the petition to stop the crossing being widened, which will allow lorries to drive faster through the village.

Residents and children gathered to support the campaign

Residents and children gathered to support the campaign - Credit: Archant

The bridge was packed with villagers, including headteacher Lisa Feldman and her pupils from Finchingfield Primary School.

Bunting has been stretched across the river to show how wide the bridge would be if Essex County Council goes ahead with plans to almost double its size.

As the demonstration took place, protestor Frances Goodfellow said: “People are standing three deep on the bridge and traffic is passing by quite comfortably. That shows there is no need for a footpath.”

She added: “At the moment, lorries go over it slowly because otherwise they will hit something. Widening the bridge will also straighten the road so they will be going faster. Now, they have to think about what they are doing but if it’s a straight, wide road, they won’t.”

A cartoon sent in by Elizabeth Donnelly depicting the campaigners

A cartoon sent in by Elizabeth Donnelly depicting the campaigners - Credit: Archant

Villagers are now wearing badges saying: “I’m a Bridger” with a picture of the bridge made into a face. The shape of the bridge makes the mouth. The figure held up over the bridge was 2,887 signatures. Since then, the petition has been verified as having 2,949 names on it. Having reached a figure over 2,0000 means that postmistress Alex Robinson will be invited to address a full meeting of Essex County Council on Tuesday, February 9 to represent the village’s view.

Alex will ask for a halt to all works on the bridge – planned for four months from July - until there has been consultation with the people affected: Finchingfield Residents and those in surrounding villages.

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The petitioners don’t want the bridge widened and they have been calling since August for a temporary bridge instead of the community facing a 14-mile detour.

Ms Robinson said: “Having no bridge at harvest time will decimate already fragile rural businesses. It will bring chaos to the country lanes and if the bridge is widened, it will destroy our historic vista for ever.

“All we want is for the council to talk to us. These signatures mean there is strong feeling about this. We want to see some plans. We can’t believe we are this close to the work starting and a company like Ringway Jacobs (the contractor for Essex County Council) doesn’t have plans.

“We have not received an explanation of why the work is being done. It began as work to strengthen it, then we discovered it was to be widened. We still have not received answers to our Freedom of Information Request made in August.”