Bridge plans could cause severe delays

Finchingfield Bridge demonstration - with banners showing the number of signatures on the petition the day before it closed
Finchingfield Bridge demonstration - with banners showing the number of signatures on the petition the day before it closed

Almost 3,000 people have signed a petition aimed at halting planned works to a picturesque village bridge.

Essex County Council is looking to demolish and rebuild Finchingfield Bridge, but protestors are opposed to the new design and say the council’s refusal to install a temporary crossing during the four-month closure will cause considerable inconvenience to motorists, forcing them to use a 15-mile detour.

Anyone from the Haverhill area wishing to visit the village or pass through it en route to places like Stansted Airport will also be affected by the diversion, which would take them from Steeple Bumpstead to Hempstead.

The Finchingfield Bridge Preservation Society (FBPS) is in favour of having the bridge strengthened, if necessary, but says the use of a temporary crossing during any closure is essential.

It is, however, against plans to almost double the width of the bridge - for heavy goods vehicles - arguing it would ‘substantially alter’ the appearance of ‘the most photographed village in England’.

Yesterday, Alexandra Robinson, Finchingfield sub-postmistress and a member of the FBPS, delivered a petition with 2,949 signatures to the county council calling on it to immediately stop all plans for work to the bridge and to organise an urgent review and re-planning process where residents’ wishes to retain the bridge’s current appearance and to install a temporary crossing are treated with the ‘utmost priority’.

The FBPS will ask at full council next week what its response will be to the ‘huge’ support for the petition.

Essex County Council has confirmed it received the petition.

A council spokeswoman said: “We are currently reviewing options and we will be providing more information in due course.”