Tadcaster waits for decision over battle of the bridge

The fallen Tadcaster bridge awaiting repair.
The fallen Tadcaster bridge awaiting repair.

The people of Tadcaster are waiting to hear whether a decision can be reached after Samuel Smith’s brewery blocked plans to build a temporary footbridge across the river.

Hope was brought back to the flood-devastated community when the Government pledged £3.3m to provide a temporary pedestrian crossing while work on the damaged bridge is carried out.

But that hope was called into question when the owner of the land, Humphrey Smith, of Samuel Smith’s brewery, opposed the plans.

Now, the MP for Selby and Ainsty, Nigel Adams, has called on the help of Prime Minister David Cameron to ensure plans for the much needed footbridge go ahead.

Mr Adams said: “I have been to see the Prime Minister and raised the problem in Tadcaster and he was as frustrated as I am but a solution has not been agreed yet.

“As the Prime Minister has said the restoration of the Tadcaster bridge and reconnecting of the town is a national priority and the fact that the Prime Minister got involved at my request shows that it is a national priority.

“It’s just really frustrating that we are in a position now where we can’t get the footbridge, which has been financed, in place for the people of Tadcaster.”

Mr Adams claimed the Tadcaster-based brewery refused permission for the footbridge to be on its land because “it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money”.

It is understood the brewery believed the money would be better spent improving the existing bridge.

The company placed the blame for the collapse of the bridge in the hands of North Yorkshire County Council.

They said: “The fault of the collapse of the 300-year-old Grade II-listed stone bridge in Tadcaster lies squarely with North Yorkshire County Council. You failed to carry out your proper duties of maintenance.”

But it appears now that the brewery is more willing to negotiate, if it is given a say on the restoration of the town’s original bridge.

Mr Adams said: “The brewery appears open to negotiations. I wrote to the brewery a couple of days ago to express my concern and reasons why I believe it was wrong to prevent the building of the footbridge.

“They appear willing now to have discussions about that.

“They want a say on the reconstruction of the bridge seemingly in return for allowing the temporary footbridge to be erected on their land.

“All of which is very frustrating, given that residents are being inconvenienced and businesses have been hit in the pocket.”

Should a temporary footbridge be allowed to be built on the land, Mr Adams said it could be in place as quickly as February.

But while the residents of Tadcaster wait for the officials to reach an agreement with the land owner, it seems the community football club has stepped in to help.

After the recent floods hit their ground hard, Tadcaster Albion relied heavily on the support of the community for the clean-up and now the club wants to give something back.

The club has offered its car park as the location for one end of a temporary footbridge should the county council want to use it.

Directly on the other side of the river is the council-owned Brittania car park, meaning the proposed location would present no problems.

Tadcaster Albion chairman Matt Gore said: “We took a video of the car parks just to show how ideal it is and put it online to see if the people of Tadcaster thought it was a good idea.

“It was just overwhelming; the video had over 4,000 views and everybody is saying it’s a great place and a great idea.”

After the club put a poll on its Facebook page to see if people would support the idea, almost 500 people voted in favour.

The new suggested location also seems to offer another great advantage.

Mr Gore said: “The doctor’s surgery and the bus station is right next to the car park and that has been one of the major problems; people can’t get to the surgery or to the buses.”

For Mr Gore, the suggestion that the club could host the footway was not about trying to be better than the brewery, but to simply provide a solution.

He said: “Both sides of the bridge support the Tadcaster Albion and we want to help them as well as the people in Tadcaster and all the businesses.

“When you walk around the town it’s so quiet and its must just be devastating for the businesses because they have no business.

“People aren’t coming into Tadcaster because they can’t come through its just getting bypassed at the moment.

“They support us in many different ways so we want to give something back to all the people that help us.”