‘It’s vital to our appeal’ - Fears over financial impact of footbridge closure
PUBLISHED: 15:06 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:11 10 October 2018
Businesses have warned that the continued closure of a footbridge between two of Suffolk’s most popular tourist attractions could cost them a quarter of their earnings.
The closure of the Southwold and Walberswick Bailey Bridge, which was announced last week over safety fears, has provoked great concern on either side of the River Blyth.
Suffolk Highways said it was working with the community to manage the situation – but could not provide a date for its reopening until an assessment of its condition was completed in the coming weeks.
People living in the area had worried to see public notices warning of the bridge’s closure until April.
Although a Suffolk Highways spokesman said the bridge could open sooner than the date stated, businesses in the region are calling for urgent action.
Mark Dober, who owns the Anchor in Walberswick, said the ongoing closure could cost his business up to a quarter of its earnings.
“All of the businesses here rely on the footbridge,” he said. “It brings people in to Walberswick but it also enables us to promote the wider area to the people who come and stay with is.
“It’s in important arterial link for the region and it’s vital to our appeal.”
Mr Dober said the bridge was also important for people to get to work.
Having attended a recent meeting, at which Suffolk County Council cabinet member Richard Smith discussed financial issues around the bridge repairs, Mr Dober said he was confident the matter was being taken seriously.
“I think Mr Smith understands the full importance of the bridge for the area – but he is limited by the constraints of the budge he has to work within,” Mr Dober added.
“It’s therefore important that the local people keep making the case for this.”
Suffolk Highways sought to minimise the impact of the closure by providing free ferry crossings from Wednesday-Friday last week.
Michael Ladd, who represents Southwold on the town, district and county councils, used some his highways allowance to continue the free ferry service into this week.
He said people were concerned about the closure and he hoped to have more information after a meeting with stakeholders this afternoon.
Suffolk Highways said the bridge would remain closed until further notice.