I received this email from Dave Stubbs at PKC regarding the Shaky Bridge:
Please find below an update on the key issues for Shaky Bridge. Councillor Brock posed several questions following the Community Council Meeting on 3rd March. The answers below seek to address these and the other enquiries we have received to date. I hope the answers we have provided help with the immediate concerns and that our proposals for keeping yourselves and the community up to date are acceptable. I do hope we can get this bridge reopened as quickly as possible once it is safe to do so.
1. Has there been an engineer’s report carried out?
Not yet, the bridge has been inspected by experienced staff who carry out these duties for the Council. We are currently in the process of appointing an engineer to initially advise on the short and longer term options for the existing bridge. To this end we have approached Allen Gordon & Co, the firm who designed and built the bridge back in 1978. We have also asked the Council’s Tree and Woodland Officer to inspect the sycamore tree which supports the bridge.
2. Why was there no public consultation?
The opinion of the inspectors was that the defects to the bridge identified during the inspection represented an immediate risk to members of the public using it and as such it wasn’t possible or appropriate to consult on the closure. Wherever possible, our normal practice would be to brief Councillors, the Community Council and other interested parties in advance of bridge closures, except where it is considered an immediate risk. We will of course fully consult the landowners, community and interest groups about what can be done with Shaky Bridge, once we have some more information. Indeed the Council will need to work on a partnership basis to try and secure longer term sustainable access in this location.
3. Signage is very poor to alert people of the closure?
The signs were put up quickly following the inspection and closure and we will improve these. Once we know more about the options for the bridge, we’ll revise this again, especially in relation to alternative routes. Signs are required at the start of the walk and at path junctions to minimise disruption. We’ll liaise with other landowners about the placement of the signs and would welcome any suggestions as to the best locations from path users.
4. The land is privately owned by Mr Dundas, was he informed?
My understanding is that the land on the north bank is owned by Mr Crabbie at Balmuick and on the south bank by the Dunira Estate. To date we have only spoken briefly to Mr Crabbie. Once we know more we will write to both owners and fully involve them in any proposals.
5. Can signage be displayed at the Bridge letting the public use it at their own risk.
No, the Council would not be acting responsibly if they knew there were problems with it and let the public continue to use it. In our view the bridge and tree are unfortunately in a dangerous condition and public safety is our primary concern. Whilst public access over private land is taken largely it the individual’s own risk the position in relation to structures is more complex and, given what we now know about the bridge, this could expose the Council, or the landowners, to liability in the case of an accident. If the public decide to deliberately use the bridge despite the Council’s reasonable actions to prevent this, then they would be doing so at their own risk.
6.When is the Bridge to be opened?
The length of the closure and any future re-opening will be determined following the further more detailed specialist inspections (noted above) and the advice of the engineer. If repair is possible we’ll do what we can within the resources we have, but if more major work is required to enable us to reopen the bridge will be looking to work with others to fund it and that will take time.
7. When is consultation taking place?
Clearly the bridge is a matter of great concern locally. In the short term at least we will provide monthly progress updates to local members in advance of Community Council meetings. We will consult all the interested parties as part of the process of deciding what is to be done about the current structure or, as the case may be, its eventual replacement.
8. Mr Godfrey’s email (on Comrie website) says differently, why is this?
Mr Godfrey is a former employee of PKC who retired early last year and therefore does not speak for the Council. Whilst he is entitled to his view, he is not responsible for the bridge or its inspection and it is ultimately Council staff that take responsibility for that. As part of that responsibility, staff must be empowered to make decisions based on what they find and in this case, that does not accord with Mr Godfrey’s opinion.
9. When are the public going to be told what is to happen.
Information will be kept up to date on the Council website http://www.pkc.gov.uk/PathNetworks and we will update the ward members and Community Council on a monthly basis. If we have any specific important updates, these will be released as quickly as possible and may include a press release. Signage will also be erected on site to keep users up to date.
In the meantime, if you have any further queries please forward these to my colleague Dave Stubbs, Greenspace Coordinator (Communities) telephone: 01738 475347 email: firstname.lastname@example.org who is coordinating the communication on this.
Community Greenspace, The Environment Service, Perth & Kinross Council
Pullar House, 35 Kinnoull Street, Perth, PH1 5GD T 01738 476476 F 01738 476410