Protesters demand bridge be re-opened one year on

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PROTESTERS gathered at Secklow Gate demanding to know why the bridge was still closed – a year after it was damaged by fire.

Members of Xplain met on the bridge on Friday, urging the council to repair the road to get traffic moving through the town centre once again.

The bridge was closed in January 2010 after a blaze caused significant damage to the bridge on the street over thecentre:mk.

But since then little work has been carried out and the group now want answers.

Linda Inoki, leader of Xplain, said: “It is a major route through Central Milton Keynes – one that we estimate takes around 25 per cent of the traffic through the centre.

“The implications are huge – it is affecting the market traders, they are losing custom.

“We have heard from the council that it will cost £500,000 to repair, but it is all insurance money and we were told in September that the money was only a matter of weeks away.

“You’d think that the council would want this road open again. There is no reason that this should be taking so long. The protest went well, we are pleased that we had as many people as we did on such a cold afternoon.

“But it goes to show that people do rely on this route through town and need it re-opened.”

The council defended its stance on carrying out bridge repairs, citing cost and public safety for the delay, but also hinted that there may be other plans afoot for the bridge and surrounding area which may be adding to the delay.

A council spokesman said: “As we have said previously we are looking carefully at a number of potential options for Secklow Bridge and the surrounding area. We can confirm that the insurance claim process is under way.

“It seemed only sensible to delay spending more than £500,000 on repairs to the bridge while there is any chance that potential development might mean the money is wasted.

“It’s also important to remember that we closed the bridge for reasons of public safety.

“The idea of potentially developing this site is nothing new – it is a prominent part of the current Milton Keynes Local Plan, which was adopted in 2005, and has always been a matter of public record.”