Local councillors have expressed concern that a historic County Derry footbridge has been left exposed to the elements while discussions about its fate remain ongoing.
The Castlerock Railway footbridge is subject to a 10,000-year lease signed by the legacy Coleraine Borough Council in 1996, but has deteriorated in condition over the years.
In 2017 Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council approved a contract for the removal and assessment of the bridge with a view to its restoration at a later date.
Cllr William Duddy
At last week's full council meeting, Coleraine councillor William Duddy raised questions over why the bridge had been left exposed to the elements instead of stored indoors.
“It's a long-running saga going back to when this bridge was removed,” he told the meeting.
“We're sitting now in 2021, and I believe that footbridge is lying out at Newmills, not even covered up, wide open to the elements, and we're talking about trying to restore it at some stage.
“At some stage, this council may have to put their hand in their pocket and pay for the repairs, but we're not even looking after what we took down.
“The Castlerock community has fought hard to get something done, but this council has not progressed it in any substantive way.
“The historical significance of this footbridge cannot be underestimated. I get the feeling it's being left out to the elements so it's beyond repair.
“It should be held in a museum at least until such time as we decide what's going to happen to it,” he added.
Cllr Oliver McMullan
However, Glens councillor Oliver McMullan questioned the need for such a report and said indoor storage was not necessary.
“What's the difference between the bridge sitting where it is and if it was in position? Surely a bridge is made to be outside anyway,” he said.
“Why are we wasting time talking about the bridge sitting out in the elements, when if it was in place, it would be out in the elements too?”
Council official Mr Aidan McPeake said the council was under no obligation to store the bridge indoors, and that discussions with Translink were ongoing.
“Our hands are tied with Translink. The structural analysis has been completed and is with Translink for approval, but they have some concerns about it,” he said.
“Until they agree to the analysis and the works that need to be done on it, we cannot complete the repairs.
“We have a further meeting with Translink to move this forward. Our objective is still to repair and replace, but Translink holds the key to the next move.”
Mr McPeake said he would provide a further update at the next full council meeting.
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