Newburgh bridge set for demolition

The North Bridge, Newburgh
The North Bridge, Newburgh

Community leaders in Newburgh have conceded that it is unlikely that up to half a million pounds will be raised to save a village landmark.

The North Bridge was closed earlier this year amid safety concerns due to its rundown condition.

The only chance now left to replace it would be the community raising the replacement money themselves

Glen Douglas Foveran Community Council

Formartine Area Committee deferred a decision pending an estimate of repair costs and community consultation.

Last week councillors decided to spend £30,000 on demolishing the footbridge. It is estimated that £400-500,000 would be needed to replace the structure.

Foveran Community Council reported its concern over the bridge to Aberdeenshire Council in January. It was closed after an inspection revealed severe corrosion on handrail posts and cracks on the decking panels.

The nearby Butchers Bridge was replaced last autumn.

Community council secretary Glen Douglas met council officials and put forward a case for the refurbishment of the bridge, offering the help of the community to assist with refurbishment and future maintenance.

Due to health and safety and other issues the local authority turned down the offer.

Mr Douglas said: “With the decision being taken to remove the bridge, the only chance now left to replace it would be the community raising the replacement money themselves.

“However, as this is estimated at between £400-500,000 it is unlikely, unless a benefactor comes forward, that this will be raised.

“The community council is saddened that Aberdeenshire Council have allowed the bridge to become unsafe during the period they were legally responsible for its maintenance.”

Councillor Gillian Owen said afterwards: “In reality we had no choice but to agree to demolition because we do have a duty of care and sadly residents are still ignoring the closed sign and using the bridge, so a solution had to be agreed, and not necessarily the one that locals want.”

Councillor Richard Thomson said they had been left in an “unenviably position” and because of the costs involved had little option with the decision.

But the door has been left open. Should a viable proposal for the North Bridge come forward from the community, it will be brought before the committee.

Councillor Thomson also successfully proposed that the South Bridge should be added to the bridge maintenance programme.