Tesco and a 'bridge too far'

THE continued closure of a footbridge to Tesco in Braunton is becoming a bridge too far for some parish councillors. They are fed up with getting the blame for something which is nothing to do with them. The bridge linking the Tarka Trail near Station R

THE continued closure of a footbridge to Tesco in Braunton is becoming "a bridge too far" for some parish councillors.They are fed up with getting the blame for something which is nothing to do with them.The bridge linking the Tarka Trail near Station Road to the new store was installed by Tesco as one of the planning conditions it had to fulfil.But the store opened in October and an access which would make life far easier for villagers has never been used and remains fenced off.Parish council chairman Councillor Jasmine Chesters and her fellow councillors have received numerous complaints from villagers about the delay, but it is nothing the parish has any powers to deal with."The opening of the bridge lies firmly at the feet of Tesco," said Mrs Chesters."There are a couple of remedial matters to be dealt with, then it can be assigned through North Devon Council to Devon County Council, which will officially adopt the bridge and make it part of the highways programme."But she said the structure still had no lighting, while water also pooled upon it, both health and safety features which prevented it from being signed off for use."Tesco know of these problems but appear slow in dealing with them," added Mrs Chesters."Many rumours are going around, one is the parish council want the bridge taken down and replaced with a wooden bridge. I do not believe this has ever been mentioned by any councillors. "Another is that parish and district councils are holding up the opening of this bridge."If anyone wants to complain about the length of time it has taken to open this bridge, will they please get in touch with Tesco head office?"People going to the store to complain are sent to the Parish Offices, but the staff there can do nothing about it. I will continue to push to resolve this on behalf of residents and hope that the work will soon be carried out and the bridge officially opened."Cllr Linda Wellstead added: "People have also said to me 'when is the parish council going to get the bridge open?' but it is nothing to do with us."Until it passes the legal requirements and is taken on by the county, it's not insured and so cannot be used."A Tesco spokesperson said the company had been asked by the local planning authority (North Devon Council) to close the bridge because it was not lit. The new lighting then had to be approved by the council and this did not happen until early December, with the lighting needing to be sensitive to ecology and a bat tunnel (route) in the area.Because the lights were a special item, they had a production time of eight to 10 weeks, Tesco was told. It noted the LED lights will only highlight the bridge guard rails, but will otherwise emit very little light, because of the proximity of the bat tunnel. Regarding the water pooling issue, the spokesperson said it would be looked into and resolved before the bridge re-opened.


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