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Monday, 15 February 2016

They're minding the gap: flood-hit town's east and west reunited

Mother, Babs Wilson and daughter, Chrissie Wilson cross
 the temporary footbridge across the Wharfe.
The folks of Tadcaster are celebrating after the east and west sides of the North Yorkshire town were reconnected thanks to a temporary footbridge across the River Wharfe.

The main Tadcaster bridge was closed after its partial collapse during the Christmas floods.

Knowing that repairs would take a year, the county, district and town councils along with local MP Nigel Adams began exploring interim measures. A solution came with the support of the town’s football club, Tadcaster Albion, which provided access to the proposed footbridge via its car park.

County council’s contractors worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day to complete the temporary bridge as quickly as possible. The metal structure was assembled in sections on site and then pushed across the river.

Mr Adams performed the official opening from the west side and county council chair, councillor David Jeffels, did the honours from the east.

They were the first on to the bridge, accompanied by mother and daughter Babs and Chrissie Wilson, who were separated when the bridge collapsed.

Chrissie, a student nurse, lives on the east side, and Babs lives on the west. Chrissie’s home was flooded on Boxing Day and the bridge collapsed while she was walking to her mother’s house to stay over.

Chrissie said: “We’re so proud to do this. Mum was born and grew up in Tadcaster and her family goes back 300 years in the town. We’re just so impressed with the way the town has pulled together through all this and delighted to have a bridge that connects the centre of the town again.”

The footbridge spans the river from the district council car park on the eastern side to Tadcaster Town Council land on the western side. The access path on the west side leads through Tadcaster Albion's car park with kind permission of the football club.

County councillor Chris Metcalfe, member for Tadcaster, said: “This afternoon’s opening of the footbridge provided a great opportunity for the town to come together and celebrate being reunited and taking another step towards returning to normality. It will be welcomed by residents and particularly by traders as a sign that Tadcaster remains open for business as usual, ready to greet locals and visitors.

"Everybody has shown incredible community spirit through these challenging weeks and the county council and its contractors are proud to have met the challenges and completed the footbridge as swiftly as possible so that people and businesses can get back to some normality.”

Nigel Adams said: “It was a privilege to help officiate at the opening and the way that the town has shown resilience and community spirit since the floods has been incredible.”

Matt Gore, chairman of Tadcaster Albion Football Club, said: “We’re delighted to have played a part in securing the location for the new footbridge. As a community football club, we will continue to offer up the car park to local businesses who can benefit from its use in any way – from local GPs leaving cars there to access the west side of the town to Sainsbury’s using it as a temporary trolley park.

“Following the recent death of Tadcaster Albion’s own Sonny Lang, we will be referring to the bridge as Sonny’s Bridge and urge members of the community to join us by marking her memory in this way.”

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