Meeting: 23/11/2021 - Cabinet (Item 5)
To consider a report by Councillor Brian Jones, Lead Member for Waste, Transport and the Environment (copy enclosed) seeking Cabinet’s support for the principle of replacing the bridge subject to securing the necessary funding to do so.
RESOLVED that Cabinet confirm support for the principle of replacing the bridge, subject to securing the necessary funding to do so. This will include making an approach to Welsh Government to request external funding.
[This item was brought forward with the consent of the Leader.]
Councillor Brian Jones presented the report seeking Cabinet’s support for the principle of replacing Llannerch Bridge (located between Trefnant and Tremeirchion), which was lost in January 2021 during storm Christoph, subject to securing the necessary funding to do so.
Llannerch Bridge had formed part of a well-used route and an important link for the communities in the area. Officers had been working with consultants on potential options/cost for a replacement bridge which given the location and technicalities involved could cost £6 – 7m and would be dependent on securing relevant funding. It was proposed that approaches to seek external funding be made, particularly to the Welsh Government, and that some preparatory work be undertaken to develop a robust business case to increase the likelihood of securing external funding. A public engagement exercise had been undertaken with an overwhelming message that the bridge should be replaced as soon as possible and provided evidence of significant community support to strengthen the business case. Councillor Jones supported the local members in all their efforts to secure a replacement bridge and explained that despite best efforts it had not been feasible to provide a temporary replacement bridge given the complexities of ground conditions and other factors.
Cabinet recognised the value of Llannerch Bridge to rural communities and fully supported the report recommendations. Councillor Jones responded to questions confirming that any new bridge would be built to modern standards taking into account local views to ensure it was fit for purpose but also cosmetically similar to the previously grade II listed bridge. He was confident that a robust business case would secure funding from the Welsh Government and highlighted the potential to include active travel and connectivity of communities to further strengthen that case. If Welsh Government funding could not be secured, other external funding sources would be explored. It was noted that, whilst the bridge had been included on the Council’s list of potential future projects (given that any new bridge may not be fully funded and a financial contribution may be required), no funding allocation had been made as yet within the limited capital resources for that purpose.
Local Members Councillors Christine Marston and Meirick Davies highlighted the importance of the bridge to local communities and devastating impact of its loss both socially and economically which had also been evidenced by the wealth of response to the public engagement exercise. Councillor Davies also felt that the listed status of the bridge should be recorded and that the resolution be further strengthened to ensure the necessary funding for a replacement bridge. The Lead Member and officers responded to points raised and further questions as follows –
· it was considered a robust business case should be developed prior to a formal approach to the Welsh Government for funding however the Council’s intention to seek funding for a replacement bridge had been communicated to the Welsh Government at the outset following the loss of the bridge
· given the scale and nature of the project required as a consequence of a significant flood event it was reasonable for the Council to look to the Welsh Government for funding support – if the approach was unsuccessful the Council would need to revisit the situation and reconsider its position at that time
· the logistics of providing a temporary bridge had been explored which would cost in the region of £1m but given the location and ground conditions which would hamper that work it had not been considered practical or feasible to do so
· in terms of ... view the full minutes text for item 5