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Bridge Anger

PUBLISHED: 10:35 29 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:08 05 July 2010

Jim Fallon

Jim Fallon

A BUSINESSMAN has criticised the lack of restrictions placed on raising Lowestoft's bascule bridge, branding the damage its doing to the economy as “unforgivable”.

A BUSINESSMAN has criticised the lack of restrictions placed on raising Lowestoft's bascule bridge, branding the damage its doing to the economy as “unforgivable”.

Jim Fallon, owner of Atlas Taxis has conducted a survey, which he claims shows that the town landmark is lifted no fewer than 12 times a day, and sometimes 15, in the majority of cases just to let a single pleasure boat or yacht to pass.

Mr Fallon, whose business is based at Pier Terrace by the bridge, said he had concluded that Associated British Ports, which operates the bridge, have “no requirement to answer to anyone for their operational procedures and the affect this has on the people of Lowestoft”.

He said: “It just seems a crazy situation to raise it so many times in view of the traffic and the implication on the town. It makes you wonder why this would be allowed to happen.

“We sit in the office just by the bridge and hear the audible noise that goes off every time the bridge is raising and my heart sinks. It is sometimes at certain times of the day, but it does appear to be pretty sporadic.

“It just makes our position very difficult. We are totally reliant on the roads for our business; if we can't move round in a free manner it restricts us. But this is not just about us, it's important that people are aware that the town is open.

“I think for any business in the town and the majority is retail, they rely on people coming in and the situation isn't conducive to that.”

Mr Fallon said he conceded that Lowestoft was a working port and that there were businesses on the west side of the bridge relying on the boats coming through.

But he questioned why yachts were not made to wait for pre-determined opening times so they could all pass through together.

“My main gripe is raising the bridge for one boat; that really galls me. Why are they not looking at every possible way of relieving the situation and looking at simple things to make it work.

“From our vantage point we have conducted a survey and the results are simply quite staggering. From these results we conclude that ABP have no restrictions placed on them for the number of times that the bridge may be raised. It is absolute stupidity that the bridge is raised for just one small pleasure boat grinding this town to a halt in the process. The damage being done to the economy of Lowestoft is unforgivable.”

A spokesman for ABP said that information on the opening times of the bridge was published in tables and information sheets at the yacht marinas.

He added that commercial shipping vessels have to go through according to the height of the tide.

According to information in the Lowestoft tide tables there are 10 official set timings that small crafts and yachts can pass through between Monday and Friday, and 11 at the weekend and bank holidays, although depending on requirement the bridge may not be lifted every single time.

It also states: “Long bridge openings make it difficult to preserve the facility from pressures of road traffic and in consequence bridge keepers are instructed not to wait for stragglers.”

Notice has also been given to mariners in the past to cancel bridge openings to help speed up the refurbishment project, undertaken by the Highways Agency.

The Journal has put a series of questions to ABP on behalf of Mr Fallon, which they have promised to respond to.

What do you think of the bridge opening arrangements? Contact The Journal, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft, NR32 1NB, or email louisa.kennard@archant.co.uk


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