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13  July

Mayor signs off by ‘building bridges’

21/05/2024 @ 05:30


Former Welshpool Mayor, Cllr Nick Howells, has signed off from his year in office this month with some good news for the town regarding the problematic canal footbridge.

Emergency repairs were carried out last year voluntary by a local contractor after an inspection showed the bridge, linking Oldford to Maesydre, was close to being condemned.

But its condition has worsened again over winter, and a wrangle over who is responsible for the structure has seen the issue drag on for many years, prompting Cllr Howells to take action.

“For the last 12 months or so, as Mayor I tried my best to get the footbridge over the canal restored as an issue of public safety,” said Cllr Howells.

“I had several meetings with other relevant bodies like Powys County Council and the Canal and Rivers Trust who all denied any ownership or responsibility, which I found extremely frustrating.”

Following the emergency repairs to stop the bridge from closing, Cllr Howell enlisted the support from the Town Council’s operations manager, Paul McGrath, to come up with a longer-term solution until money could be sought to completely rebuild the structure.

“Paul and his team have monitored the bridge over the last year or so and have serious concerns about public safety,” said Cllr Howells.

“A practical inspection by the operations team recently showed that the surfacing on the apex of the bridge was in a serious state of dilapidation.

“We have had fabricators in to look at the overall restoration but felt that interim repairs needed to be done immediately to make it safe for the public.

“Thanks to a carpenter who has been working locally (John Bedford) who has been liaising with Paul, the emergency repairs have been completed.

“Huge thanks to Paul and John on this, as the bridge is now structurally safe. We Just now need to raise the funds for a full renovation which we will all be working towards as far as we can.”

Cllr Howells ended his term somewhat controversially, stating that he had become frustrated with the way some meetings were being conducted and the behaviour of some councillors during debates. He has been succeeded by Cllr Phil Owen.