Villagers still in dark over Finchingfield bridge closure despite council response

PUBLISHED: 09:02 23 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:02 23 October 2015

Bridge campaigners Peter and Mary Curry and Jane Welsh with Braintree MP James Cleverly,

Bridge campaigners Peter and Mary Curry and Jane Welsh with Braintree MP James Cleverly,

Archant

It is a case of “We are still no wiser” now that residents of Finchingfield have finally received a response from Essex County Council to a set of questions about the closure of their bridge.

The four-month closure for repairs, set for July next year, involves a 15-mile detour round other villages. The villagers have asked instead for a temporary bridge.

After a Freedom of Information request submitted in August, with nine questions, which should have been answered in 20 days, there has now been a response. However, residents say they are no clearer.

Alex Robinson who runs Finchingfield Post Office, which put in the FOI request said: “What is confusing is that the council has made this decision to cut our village in half for four months but we don’t know what it is based on.

“They don’t seem to know what they are doing. They haven’t bothered to look at the impact on essential services and they say they don’t even have to consider the economic aspects – I am sure the farmers will be thrilled to know that.

“We expected all along that they hadn’t done their homework. They are just saying we have to trust them that the work needs doing and trust them on the cost and impact. What they are forgetting is that they are elected members and they are treating their electorate with contempt.”

The villagers asked for the minutes of meetings at which decisions had been taken, for details of assessments on the repairs and the design of the new bridge.

They have been told there are no minutes, the assessment details “have been archived” and “will be forwarded in future” and the design was still being drawn.

When the council was asked how the contractors, Ringway Jacobs, arrived at the estimate of four months for the work, the answer was: “The programme of works is currently being developed and has not progressed enough to enable it to be released.”

Asked about the assessment of the impact of the work on essential and emergency services– the reply is: “This work is ongoing and has not been completed yet.”

Asked for the assessment of the work on the economy of the area. The response was: “This is not a criterion we need to analyse.”

Finchingfield Parish Council has organised a public meeting on the bridge for Tuesday, November 17 at 6.30pm in Finchingfield Village Hall.

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