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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Bridge the Walney gap with second island link

THE breakdown of Jubilee Bridge last month was a stark reminder of how much Walney relies on its only road link to the mainland.

By Richard Herbert

THE idea of a second road bridge between Barrow and Walney has been talked about for decades.But such a crossing has never been built - much to the dismay of residents and visitors to the island.Reporter RICHARD HERBERT asks South Walney election candidates how they would go about getting a bridge built.

And one of the vehicles stuck in the traffic was an ambulance.

The crew was not attending a life-threatening incident.

But the situation could so easily have been very different.

And that’s one of the reasons why community campaigners have repeatedly called for a second crossing.

It would provide an alternative route for the emergency services as well as splitting up the traffic going to and from the island.

This is well acknowledged by candidates for the three South Walney seats on Barrow Borough Council on May 1.

Conservative David Marcus, a 58-year-old theatre director, producer, teacher and performer, of Biggar Village, Walney, said: “I certainly support the creation of a second bridge between Barrow and Walney.

“The future development of the island, not to mention the safety aspects concerned with the present arrangement, are foremost in the opinion of many people.

“The present, very attractive but 100-year-old bridge, which was never constructed to carry the weight of 21st century traffic should not be replaced but should be partnered by a second road bridge, and not a footbridge as proposed.

“To ensure the building of the new bridge, I would lobby highways authority Cumbria County Council at every opportunity.

“In addition, a petition would be launched, with the involvement of Walney and Barrow residents and presented to the county council as soon as possible.”

Fellow Conservative Ollie Flitcroft, 33, a political agent and charity fund-raiser of Kent Street, Barrow, promised the same course of action.

He said: “If we’re elected on May 1, on May 2 we will launch a campaign for a second bridge over Walney.”

Another Tory, Alan Pemberton, of Thorncliffe Road, Barrow, says Furness Labour MP John Hutton should also be pressured to get the crossing built.

The Barrow Cricket Club president and retired company director said: “I am definitely in favour of a second bridge which should be a road bridge capable of taking emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and fire engines.

“The finances from this would have to come from the government through the county council, so we would have to lobby both, especially our MP Mr Hutton who, as a cabinet minister, should be fighting our cause.”

Labour candidates Colin Thomson, 58, and Bob Pointer, 59, also back the crossing and pledged to work with others to get it built.

Mr Thomson, a retired shipyard fitter and turner, of Dover Street, Walney, said: “I fully support the idea of a second bridge and will take every opportunity to press for its delivery whenever I have the chance to do so.

“I think it is important we work in partnership with our county council colleagues and others to ensure the need is recognised and that it is included in the county’s roads programme.

“I know both the Labour county councillors for Walney recognise the need, and I will work with them to pursue it.”

Mr Pointer, a retired shipyard electrician and former submariner with the Royal Navy, of Deal Avenue, Walney, said: “A second bridge would clearly be a major scheme and would require a multitude of agencies to work in partnership to secure its delivery.

“I would look to work in partnership with my colleagues to ensure the need for the second bridge was accepted and pursued.”

Fellow Labour man and current South Walney borough councillor, John Murphy, says in an ideal world, we should be thinking of a second bridge.

But, he points out, it isn’t an ideal world.

“It would be the choice of the electorate but you don’t just build a bridge and drop it into place,” said the 59-year-old county councillor, nature lover, self employed guide and carer, of Mikasa Street, Walney.

“There would be a great amount of infrastructure required for access, and what would we have to destroy to provide that infrastructure?

“On the Barrow side of the channel, would the Channelside college have to be demolished?

“The practicalities of a second bridge would be very difficult to overcome.”

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