Wetherby’s MP Alec Shelbrooke has welcomed a Government commitment to release funds for the repair of Linton Bridge.
The bridge between Linton and Collingham was closed on December 27 after the floods on Boxing Day, splitting the two villages and causing major traffic diversions, as well as a loss of trade for local businesses.
Last week George Osborne’s Budget included a £130m investment for the repair of bridges and roads across the north of England damaged by Storms Desmond and Eva, with the official report earmarking “funding that will enable repairs to the Linton Bridge in Leeds”.
Mr Shelbrooke, who had teamed up with Harewood ward councillor Matthew Robinson to lobby for the funding, told the Wetherby News that he was “grateful to the Chancellor for listening to our call for action”.
Mr Shelbrooke said: “I was on site with residents and Coun Robinson the day after Boxing Day to assess the flood damage to Linton Bridge.
“Since then the closure of the bridge has caused major diversions for traffic and a loss of trade for local businesses, so we have been seeking to get the bridge repaired as soon as possible.
“Now the Chancellor has committed the funds for repair it will be down to Leeds City Council to deliver the project for local residents”.
Leeds City Council has also welcomed the announcement, however the authority has expressed fears that the government funding will not cover all the costs.
Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “Since the storm the council has been committed to ensuring that the impact on communities has been kept to a minimum. We have been putting pressure on central government for a fair deal on funding to repair infrastructure and will be continuing to do so.
“We are, therefore, pleased that this effort has paid off in part and funding has now been announced to repair Linton Bridge.
“Since Christmas, the council has funded all of the work undertaken to stabilise the bridge, with the first phase being completed within the next week or so.
“With an overall cost of more than £9m across the city, we are concerned that the government funding announced will not cover half of the infrastructure repairs needed as a result of Storm Eva.”
Coun Lewis also stressed that the bridge would be “out of action for some time to come” due to the amount of work that needed to be carried out to repair it.
He said: “Once the first phase is concluded, the next step of the project will be to repair the bridge which is likely to involve partial demolition and reconstruction.
“The length of this particular phase will be time consuming which will mean the bridge is out of action for some time to come.
“We are very grateful for the cooperation of local landowners for enabling access to the bridge and also for the continued patience of local residents and businesses during this difficult time for them.”
Janet Bilton, landlady of the Windmill Inn in Linton, said the announcement was good news as her business, along with others in the area, had suffered a loss of trade as a result of the closure.
She said: “It has been very worrying for me and other businesses. It has definitely affected each and every one of us in the village as it has cut us off.
“I’m also absolutely sure some of the shops in Collingham have been suffering.
“We are stranded. However, everybody is being positive and trying to move forward which is good. There are a lot of people working on our behalf.
“The funding is definitely a step in the right direction and I’m really happy the repairs are going to happen. It will be nice to see people again, who used to come up every day from Collingham.”
Meanwhile, in light of the repairs taking time, Mrs Bilton is resting her hopes on a temporary footbridge being built.
She said: “I hope the footbridge will come in first as it will make a big difference. “There is no way the bridge will be done this year. I just think it’s going to take so long to put it back.
“However, it’s nice to have positives instead of negatives for everybody and the funding for Linton Bridge is good news,” she added.