Council U-turn on bridge plan

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PROTESTORS are celebrating a short-term victory after the council announced the Secklow Gate bridge is to finally re-open.

More than a year after a fire caused damage to the bridge, the council has agreed that it is time to repair the route through thecentre:mk.

A Freedom of Information request lodged by Xplain, a group fighting for better development in Milton Keynes, revealed that it was costing the council a massive £30,000 per month to keep the bridge closed – an estimated £390,000 since the fire in January 2010.

The group carried out a protest outside the council offices on Tuesday night, complaining about the length of time it was taking to re-open the road.

The council did also confirm that it is in talks with thecentre:mk about selling the land and redeveloping it, though no formal planning application has been lodged.

Cllr Mike Galloway, the Cabinet member for planning and the environment, said: “The council’s Local Plan envisaged the removal of the bridge to enable the re-development of the surrounding area – so it was appropriate to explore whether there was any realistic chance of proposals on those lines emerging in the near future.

“We have had interest expressed from thecentre:mk for redevelopment.

“However that application has not been received yet, so we took the decision that the work will now be done.”

Linda Inoki, leader of Xplain, said that while it was good news that the bridge would be reopened, there were more pressing concerns.

She said: “It is not up to thecentre:mk to rush a planning application through. The council kept it closed awaiting an application that didn’t come.

“But when there was a big protest planned, they have performed a double u-turn and agreed to open the bridge.

“We are pleased in the short term, and it just goes to show what happens when you shine the light on the murky goings on behind the council’s closed doors.”

The council said that it would take up to five weeks to repair the bridge, but could not say when the repairs would begin.