Councillors approve bridge closure despite concerns

Cruden Bay
Cruden Bay

Despite concerns from local traders and a ward councillor, the Buchan Area Committee has approved plans to close a tourist bridge in Cruden Bay for repairs.

The local authority had been expected to agree the closure in line with a recommendation from Aberdeenshire Council’s planning chief Stephen Archer.

Traders in the Buchan village have expressed ‘significant concerns’ over the impact on summer holiday trade if the Ladies Bridge is faced with further closure next year.

At last week’s committee meeting Stephen Smith, SNP councillor for Peterhead South and Cruden, said: “Having spoken to some local businesses their preference is to keep the timetable of works to an absolute minimum.

“If we could keep the timetable as short as possible that would be welcomed.”

The 92 year-old bridge, which links the village to its award-winning beach, has been forced to close on several occasions over the past few years.

Last year Buchan councillors gave the go-ahead for a £340,000 package of repairs, aimed at extending the life of the bridge by a further 50 years.

A temporary bridge was planned during the repairs, however, a cheaper option of £220,000 has since been proposed which would forego the provision of the temporary bridge and undertake the work over the summer period.

The council’s policy and resources committee agreed that the cheaper option would deliver the project outcomes, but would give rise to temporary inconvenience to the community and visitors.

Cruden Bay Community Association has since consulted with the business community who raised significant concerns and highlighted the impact on trade caused by past closures.

The community’s preference would be for works to be completed by the summer holidays (July 3, 2015).

They also highlighted that May is historically the busiest time of the year for visitors to the area.

In a report, Stephen Archer said that to complete the works by July 2015 on site works would require to be initiated by mid-March.

“While it is acknowledged that this option will give rise to the greatest inconvenience for the local community and businesses, construction during the summer months reduces the level of contingencies required and therefore reduces the cost of the project,” he says.

Work on the project is expected to start early May 2015 with an expected construction period of 14 weeks.

Mr Archer said following concerns from the community an alternative option is being considered which will aim to conclude all works by July 3.

“Some contingencies would be removed to shorten the site works to ten weeks, while also moving the start day to the end of April.

“However, it must be noted that due to the reduced timescale there is a realistic chance that the proposed bridge closure may still encroach on the summer holidays,” he says.

The £220,000 cost will be funded from the Six key Area Fund.

Notices will be posted in the village with updates.