SOMERSET Council said there is “no allocated capital funding” that could be used for the replacement of a footbridge in Taunton town centre.

Goodland Gardens’ pedestrian bridge has been closed since last November when “significant structural weaknesses” were found.

Since then, Somerset Council said the replacement of the bridge, for which a petition has also been set up, would cost at least £400,000.

Last month the town council supported a motion submitted by Cllr Caroline Ellis and wrote to Somerset Council to say the replacement of the bridge is “essential”.

In their response, Somerset Council said that they “currently have no allocated capital funding that could be used to fund a replacement bridge at this time”.

Taunton Town Council said Somerset Council’s response was “inadequate”.

Somerset County Gazette: The closed footbridge in Goodland GardensThe closed footbridge in Goodland Gardens (Image: Newsquest)

Cllr Ellis said: “I was pleased that the full council supported the motion I submitted to the July meeting.

“Whilst we are not the owner of this much-loved bridge, the council noted the strong community feeling about the negative impact of the closure of the Goodland Gardens Footbridge as expressed to us by residents and businesses and in the current online petition and campaign by Friends of Goodland Gardens.

“We hope to work in partnership with Somerset Council going forward on the resolution to the loss of this key pedestrian route.”

The town council’s spokesperson said: “The town council understands the importance of this key pedestrian route to residents, to businesses in the town centre and the future of the town itself and agrees that a replacement bridge is essential.

“The council resolved to write as a matter of urgency to Somerset Council to:

(a) Express its view that removal of the Goodland Gardens bridge without replacing it would have an unacceptably harmful impact on:

• the environment - with an increase in car journeys being a likely and inevitable consequence of losing this key pedestrian route;

• the safety of children on their way to school, college and clubs;

• social inclusion and wellbeing - disabled people and those with mobility impairments are denied a safe, convenient and accessible route to our green spaces, the town centre and essential services and reduced opportunities for people facing mental distress to enjoy the peace and nature of the river and gardens;

• the achievement of the Garden Town objective of joining up green spaces, waterways, parks and play spaces from Longrun meadow right along the River Tone and into town; and

• the economy and vibrancy of the town centre and opportunities for inward investment which hinge on improving car-free routes and making the town’s green spaces more connected not less so;

(b) Urge Somerset Council to act promptly to put together a viable funding package and plan to secure a replacement clear span footbridge which is well-designed, sympathetic to and in keeping with the existing surrounding environment and offers an improvement on accessibility for pedestrians including those using wheelchairs/mobility scooters/walking frames/prams or buggies and cyclists as soon as possible.

(c) Request that there is a close liaison with the town council on this matter.

(d) Express our willingness to work in partnership to help deliver a new pedestrian bridge at this key location.”

Somerset County Gazette: A petition for the replacement of the bridge has also been set upA petition for the replacement of the bridge has also been set up (Image: Newsquest)

A statement from Somerset Council said: “As we have stated to Cllr Ellis in a similar enquiry, we currently have no allocated capital funding that could be used to fund a replacement bridge at this time.

“When we have looked at it from an Active Travel Network perspective the existing bridge didn’t form a key element and hence currently it would not be a priority for replacement as other bridges across the Tone currently exist close by.

“We stand by to support any local initiatives to fund the bridge in our capacity as Planning and Transport Authority.”