Fury on the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border as £650 a year (plus VAT) charge imposed to cross historic iron bridge
- Credit: Archant
Residents on the Norfolk/Cambridgeshire border must pay £650 a year (plus VAT) if they want to continue to use an iron bridge.
The alternative, for residents and visitors alike, could be a detour of up to 10 miles.
The sudden decision to impose the charge has surprised and angered many who live there or who use the bridge.
The charges have been imposed by the South Yorkshire Pension Fund who own the bridge through their ownership of the 13,000-acre Waldersey estate.
Lorraine Fleming says her neighbours and friends in the small community based around the river and known as Brandon Bank and Little Ouse have been presented with few options.
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She said the price would include two fobs to use the gates to the bridge – extra fobs will cost £75 each.
“For one individual this means his property will be landlocked,” she said. “It will mean they will have to do a 5-10-mile detour to get out of the village.”
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She says local farmers who drive multiple tractors per day and sugar beets lorries will have their access kept “but it is they that are doing all the damage to this lovely little bridge”
Lorraine says she recalls the bridge being offered to Norfolk County Council some years back for £1 “but they turned it down”.
She added: “We have been told the money we pay will be kept in a fund to pay for future repairs to the bridge.”
Another resident said they had been in touch with the county council to inquire if planning permission was needed to implement a charge.
“I emailed the planning department of Norfolk council to see if planning permission was needed,” she said.
“It is, but they have not made an application. The planning officer who then phoned me will be contacting the land agents, Bidwells, to invite them to apply. “Hopefully, when they do so there will be statutory notices put up by the planning office inviting people to lodge their objections.
“This will take a while and in the meantime the barrier may still be put in place. If planning permission is not granted, however, they will have to remove it.”
One villager said: “The residents of both Brandon Bank, on the Norfolk side of the river and Little Ouse on the Cambridgeshire side have been able to cross the bridge freely and unopposed since the 1970s.
“The bridge was built by and paid for by a cooperative of local farmers. I am told that Norfolk County Council made a monetary contribution to its construction, but of this information I cannot be certain.”
She added: “We are concerned that if planning permission is needed that notices should have been displayed allowing us the opportunity to make our objections known to the planning department.
“We are concerned that should it be necessary for Anchor Drove or Black Horse Drove to be closed for essential maintenance that residents of Brandon Bank would not be able to leave their homes to go shopping or to attend medical and dental appointments.”
The resident said delivery drivers would have to reach them by coming through Southery which, if a driver had further deliveries to make in, say, Littleport, would make for a far longer journey than at present.
“Closing the bridge off to all but those willing to pay will mean a considerable increase of traffic through Southery,” she said.
“We are further (and extremely) concerned that access to emergency service vehicles attending Brandon Bank residents will be denied and could cause life threatening situations.”