Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Bridge progress?

It is three months since the devastating November floods nearly destroyed Cockermouth and caused havoc across much of West Cumbria.

The TV crews went home to normality, the politicians scuttled off to the next photo opportunity, but we have been left with miles of detours, hours of delay and very little progress. If this was the south of England and main arterial routes were affected, repairs would have been completed within a fortnight but not here, we're obviously not important enough.

There is a huge amount of anger and frustration amongst local people whose lives and businesses just cannot function normally when the only way to cross the Derwent from the west coast is about a 20 mile round trip via Cockermouth. Last week a local farm closed their tearoom which used to employ 11 people because lack of access has reduced the all-day trade to a handful of faithful at lunchtime and nothing else. Generous donations have swelled the Flood Relief Fund to £2 million - will any of it get to these people?

Things have not been helped by the closure of many smaller roads in order to protect bridges from really heavy lorries, this in the name of 'traffic management' but it strikes me as pure mis-management. If a bridge could be opened then I think it SHOULD be opened, it didn't take the authorities long to put cameras on the Bill Barker Bridge to catch motorists dropping off pedestrians so I can't see any reason why bridges cannot be managed with traffic lights, cameras, whatever. Yes, I'm royally p*ssed off but my feelings are nothing compared to some of the angry correspondence published in the Times & Star, and I was shown a letter yesterday written by a neighbour to the Cumbria County Council Chief Executive - phew, I don't ever want to be on the wrong side of this particularly intelligent, articulate and angry chap!

I haven't mentioned this before because it is not the image of Cumbria that I want friends and family to take away with them nor do I particularly want to dwell on it, so rant over, it finally looks like a start is being made on repairs to our bridge.

I'm guessing the container units are for site-office and tool storage, and that the bags of ballast might be to divert water from the bridge pillars in order that repairs can be carried out? The cynic in me wonders how long it will be before anyone actually turns up to do anything with this kit.

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