Town reconnected as plans for Tadcaster footbridge underway

Tadcaster's fallen bridge
Tadcaster's fallen bridge

The people of Tadcaster will finally have a way across the river after the only bridge fell at the hands of devastating floods and tore the town in two.

The government dubbed the situation a ‘national priority’ when the Boxing Day disaster left the town’s only connection across the River Wharfe completely unusable.

But while traffic is still diverted, it has now been announced that a footbridge has been sourced and plans are underway to get the temporary measure in place.

After an initial survey condemning the bridge for traffic it was hoped a second survey on the side of the bridge which has not fallen would show it was safe for pedestrians.

However with the water level still high, the river is too unsafe for divers to continue investigations or conduct work on re-establishing the foundations with concrete.

The announcement by Tadcaster Emergency Action Group also said a public meeting will be held on January 11 with North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) to answer people's questions on the current bridge.

Following a meeting on Monday January 4, NYCC said a temporary road bridge was not an option but that the authority was ‘best placed’ to reconstruct the existing bridge.

A NYCC spokesperson said: “The council is hoping that the reconstruction of the bridge can be carried out within 12 months, circumstances permitting.

“It is estimated that the reconstruction will cost around £3 million. The county council will therefore be looking for financial support from Government.”

People in Tadcaster are fighting to get back to normality as the fate of the fallen bridge has now been decided.

In the aftermath of the destruction, community spirit is higher than ever as businesses are finally starting to reopen and a candlelit vigil has been held for those affected.

After Tadcaster Medical Centre was completely flooded, Practice Manager Sarah Botherway said staff are doing everything they can to run as normal.

She said: “We are seeing patients here and at another location on the other side of the bridge. We are doing all visits and putting everybody through we are running as much as we can as normal.

“It doesn’t look very pretty but we are trying our best to offer patients the service they received before.”

Mayor of Tadcaster, Don Bain Mackay has been involved in the decisions over the town’s bridge and tried to reassure local people.

He said: “I have been involved in a number of meetings and what transpires is that this is going to get done, I know it’s not happening instantly but it’s going to get done.

While a free shuttle service has been put in place and the viaduct has been opened for footways, Mr Bain Mackay agreed this isn’t ideal.

He said: “The town is quite simply split in half, it’s quite agitating as you can understand. We have got the shuttle service but it’s not ideal and people with cars have to take a ten mile detour.

“It’s not good but we are not left with many options.”

Despite the issue of the bridge taking potentially 12 months to be resolved, everything else in Tadcaster seems to be bouncing back much quicker.

After floods swept through the store and forced the local supermarket, Mill Lane Sainsbury’s to close, the branch has announced its reopening date.

While people were concerned it could be several weeks before the store re-opened, the business has said customers can return on Monday January 11.

Funds have also been raised for those people in the community that have been affected by the floods after Tadcaster’s Churches Together organised a candlelit vigil.

The vigil was held at St Mary’s Church which also suffered badly in the floods.

Reverend Sue Sheriff said: “People came from all over. It was aimed at people of all faiths and none, it was a service but we tried to make it accessible to everybody.

“We asked everybody to write a small thank-you to whoever they wanted to thank. When we are up and running we will pin them to notice boards around the church for people to come and see.”

But while Tadcaster made national news, just down the road Linton faced a similar situation when the village bridge to Leeds was also shut.

Floods weakened the structure of the crossing leaving a visible kink in the bridge, and forced authorities to close it over safety concerns.

Linton resident, Jill Bolton said: “It is a main commuter connection for people to other areas.

“It’s very quick getting over the bridge from Linton and onto the motorway or into Collingham but if you have got to go the other way you have to go round through Wetherby.

“It’s only time and inconvenience at least no one was hurt that’s the main thing.

“But it does mean that families with children who go to school in Collingham, they will have a much longer trip to school.”

In order to help the situation in Linton, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has set up a free shuttle service here too.

The service will run from Monday to Saturday on an hourly basis from the Linton bus stop opposite the Windmill Inn to Wetherby Bus Terminus.