A VITAL bridge which links a North-east village to miles of scenic coastline is in jeopardy after suffering significant storm damage.
The historic Ladies Bridge in Cruden Bay spans the Waters of Cruden and is the only link between the village and popular the beach.
It attracts hundreds of tourists each year, as well as being a favoured spot for local families and dog walkers. Cruden Bay Community Association is working closely with Aberdeenshire Council to explore a range of options for restoring or replacing the footbridge.
The bridge, which was built in 1922 and named after the ladies who funded it, was closed by the local authority in September for health and safety reasons when part of the parapet collapsed following a storm.
Association secretary Billy Collie said that the group was continuing to “explore all options” to restore the bridge.
He said: “The bridge is continuing to deteriorate and repairs could be very costly. We must ensure we have examined all the options so we can choose the most cost-effective solution for the long term.
“We are now exploring a range of ideas for replacing the existing structure — as quickly and cost-effectively as possible within the constraints of the current economic climate.
“We are collaborating with environmental planners and bridge engineers from Aberdeenshire Council to find the best way forward, as well as with local businesses and individuals able to offer us a broad range of relevant professional support.”
Access to the beach is at the moment only possible via part of Cruden Bay Golf Club’s course. Aberdeenshire Council said that around £50,000 would be needed to restore the bridge to a standard allowing public use.
The bridge has since sustained further damage and it is looking increasingly likely that the structure may be beyond economic repair.
The Ladies Bridge is owned by Cruden Bay Community Association, but Aberdeenshire Council currently has responsibility for its maintenance under a 20-year agreement signed in 1994.
A figure of £250,000 for replacing the bridge has been quoted in the past, but Mr Collie stressed that this was one estimate only, and that the actual cost would depend on the option chosen.
“We fully understand how frustrating it is for villagers and visitors alike not to be able to use the bridge, but we want to reassure everyone that a great deal has been going on behind the scenes over the past three months.
“We are now working towards being able to consult the local community on the different strategies open to us early in the new year.”