The result of the Town Council’s household Bridge survey/vote

The result of the Town Council’s household Bridge survey/vote is:

  • voting papers posted – 4,487
  • voting papers returned – 2,753
  • response – 61%
  • spoilt papers 23
  • valid votes 2,730
  • Yes votes 1,164
  • No votes 1,566
  • voting shares Yes 42%
  • No 57%
  • response shares, No response 39%
  • vote No 35%
  • vote Yes 26%

UPDATE: Comments on this post are now closed. If you have an opinion about the bridge, please post it here.

(Contributed by: Annette Seekings)


    • The result was closer than many expected and I would like to thank Richard Craft and all those dedicated individuals who fought hard for the proposed bridge to be built. This was definitely not a clear No to the bridge as many believed.

      Despite the council putting a halt to proceedings, I hope this is not the last we’ll hear of this. What ever your thoughts on the cable Stay design, the bridge would have allowed a safer route for those on foot. How many times have I seen people hit by mirrors of passing cars or having to step out into the road when meeting others on the bridge.

      This is a real missed opportunity and a sad day for the town, especially as the bridge had already been approved.

    • Having visited BOA for the past 35 years, usually enjoying the ambiance and facilities of the town, I’m afraid this decision is the death knell to my future enjoyment of your wonderful town, no more will I visit or at least if I do I will not risk life and limb to traverse this ancient bridge.
      The residents who voted against the new structure are barmy and have no thought for the poor pedestrians who have to cross this bridge on a daily basis.
      The council could of course overule the vote and still plough on, lets hope common sense prevails before someone is killed crossing the old bridge.

    • I am very frustrated with the result from the poll. As far as I can see, the argument has always been surrounding the look of the bridge, rather than whether we needed a bridge or not. The Bradford Bridge Concern group clearly thought we needed a bridge too as they have spent so much time and effort designing their own. Therefore, no-one can be happy with the ‘no bridge at all’ result – it is a fantastic opportunity wasted.

      It’s sad to think that it will take a serious injury on the bridge to make people see clearly on this issue – it’s one of safety, not aesthetics.

      The poll was essentially requested by the opponents to the cable stay bridge so I would assume that nearly all the opponents to the bridge seized the opportunity to vote ‘No’. Only 35% of all households responded with a ‘No’ vote. Whereas, those who really wanted the cable-stay bridge, or didn’t really mind (because they didnt return their voting card) make up the vast majority (65%). It’s a good indication that the hardened opponents are in the minority which makes it even more frustrating!

    • Simple solution.

      Put up attractive railings on the bridge to keep pedestrians away from the ridiculously huge wing mirrors a lot of vans and trucks use these days.

      That way you have something to hold onto and still have room and a sense of security on the bridge. I have had to jump out of the way several times because of huge wing mirrors. Quite frankly if I got hit I would not only sue the council for negligence I would sue the driver too. This is a major accident waiting to happen.

    • All may not be lost. There is a full council meeting next Tuesday, July 26th, where the council’s proposal to abandon the project will be debated. I believe many councillors are still in favour of the bridge, and only 7 of the 12 voted at last Tuesday’s meeting so there are more votes to come. It might help if bridge supporters attended next Tuesday. Pointing out that many of the ‘No’ votes were actually ‘No to the cable stay, we want Unity 3 instead’ might have some effect. If you can’t go to the meeting, writing to the Town Council on the subject (send email to ku.vo1590754541g.lic1590754541nuocn1590754541wotno1590754541vanod1590754541rofda1590754541rb@kr1590754541elcnw1590754541ot1590754541) might also help.

      Now that we can see and walk around inside Kingston Mills, it’s even more blindingly obvious that we need a bridge. One last try!

    • In September there were two designs available, following the stakeholders meetings. The Town Council could have analysed the merits and pitfalls of the two bridge designs alongside one another (as recommended) and presented the comparison to the people in a ballot last autumn. If the cable-stay had won such a ballot, Bradford Bridge Concern would have stood down. If Unity had won we would now have a planning application well under way for the simpler beam bridge.
      The foundations are available for both designs.
      Yes, do come and debate the issues on Tuesday, and e-mail the Council. (But do bear in mind they are short-staffed in the office).

    • Of those who actually cared and responded, the ‘No Bridge’ camp clearly won by better than three to two (35% to 26%)

      The comments attempting to dispute – or override – the result of this poll remind me of our contemptuous political masters in Brussels who are never willing to accept the voice of the common people but demand that we vote time and again until we get it right.

      No means No.

    • Well, ‘no bridge’ clearly didn’t mean ‘no bridge’ to some people, it meant ‘let’s vote for no bridge so we can keep on trying to get Unity 3 instead’ in some cases. Unity 3 supporters were told ‘no, we’re not going to take your design further’ so they encouraged their supporters to vote tactically in the consultation – hence the result. Trouble is we don’t know how many of the ‘no’ votes were honest answers to the question and how many were tactical.

      And I see from today’s Wiltshire Times that John Seekings is quoted as saying that the result was ‘satisfactory’ and that he hoped the council would now take Unity 3 forward!

      If the proposal to abandon the project is ratified on Tuesday, I sincerely hope it’s made very clear to the Unity 3 supporters that ‘no bridge’ means just that. But let’s at least have the full cohort of councillors there to make that decision.

    • I didn’t go to last Tuesday’s Extraordinary Council meeting on the bridge, because I understood the meeting was to have been held in the Council offices, where there was only room for 12 members of the public. However, I was puzzled to hear from various people that even one of the councillors queried the validity of the outcome of the vote, concerned at the views of those who hadn’t voted. Having already voted in a poll on the bridge the previous year I imagine ‘bridge debate fatigue’ discouraged participation. For all that, 61% voted and well over half voted ‘no’. By that logic, had their own seat been won their own seat by such a healthy margin they would have felt duty bound to let the other candidate take their seat! This is the logic that appears to have been applied to each outcome of voting on the bridge thus far. Finally, I hope, democracy might be applied. This recent vote, as with the previous two votes on whether the town wanted the cable stay bridge, surely should be the end of the matter.

      This issue has occurred because the process for taking decisions about a bridge was deeply flawed. Some councillors themselves have stated this. I know people who were in favour of the Cable Stay, who had the integrity to vote ‘no’ on account of this flawed process. Yes, the council are voted in to take decisions on our behalf and do some fantastic work. Taking into account the big picture, we should be grateful for their voluntary efforts. However, with something of this, cost, scale and in such a sensitive site, they should have ensured their plans had the wider support of the community. Now is the time to rebuild bridges between the opposing sides. Such friction as has been experienced just cannot be a allowed to fester any longer in so small a place and the council have the responsibility to turn this around.

      The issue is, do we want a bridge? If the answer is yes (and I think the majority do want one), what type of bridge (modern, heritage, other options, don’t mind) and how much would the town be happy for the council to spend of OUR money on a such a bridge? (give tick box options with a real example of a bridge type of that cost).

      Ideally, a household questionnaire, drawn up by external professionals to avoid bias, could collect such data. That should give the council very clear parameters to work within. Given support for a bridge, clear terms of reference should be agreed by a ‘stakeholder’ group and a national competition held (perhaps as a PR operation for the whole of Bradford on Avon …maybe material for a TV documentary). The two recent bridges could be submitted. The top five bridges (if they fit the agreed criteria) should then be submitted to the general public with arguments for how they fit the criteria for a public vote over a good period of time for their vote. The resulting outcome would surely be incontrovertible.

      Obviously, those councillors who themselves admitted that the process had been flawed, know what the correct procedures ought to be, and will undoubtedly be able to make better suggestions to this end than I have. Nonetheless, there seems to me to be a real opportunity to turn a negative into a positive to rebuild community cohesion while also promoting this gorgeous, historic town and ending up with a bridge which the majority are happy with. I hope that this opportunity is picked up from the very top and that the polemic approach of some people is positively discouraged at the next bridge debate.

    • It doesnt matter if the people of Bradford dont want a bridge – the whole point of the last 10 years negotiations is that Bradford town NEEDS a bridge to move sucessfully forward and enable the town to evolve over the next generation Im sure in hindsight many things could have been done in a better way, human nature is flawed, but I have never doubted the integrity of the Counciland its members or its findings.

    • Unity3 leaflets misled the PT membership, its donors and the wider town about the nature of its planning status and its inherent risk to many users. Despite being thoroughly conversant with the planning process the simple pre-application was not sought on unity 3, despite the confident words at the 2nd March 2011 public presentation. Likewise relying on meeting minimum safety guidelines to state unity3 as safe to use as the cable stay beggars belief.

      This is unacceptable behaviour from a public subsidised charitable organisation.

      If you agree then please register a complaint with the trustees of the PT via the PT website and also ask the town council to suspend all and any grants to the PT. Sorry PT, you don’t get to play fast and loose with safety.

      There is also now a growing consensus of opinion that the unity 3 proposal was no more than a clever spoiler to split the yes vote and prevent any bridge at all. It would explain why no pre-app was undertaken and the lack of proper disclosure about the adverse advice from the unit 3 bridge engineer about its wobble problem as highlighted in the 22nd March meeting.

      As regards the consultation survey, lets not forget that as a result of the electoral services refusing to release the full electoral roll to the town council, the household survey was all that remained.
      This cut out nearly 3000 voters ( ie 40% of the ~7400) who are on the roll and gave a premium to single occupancy household at the expense of multi adult households.

      I was at the EGM – the anti bridge speakers actually called into question the vote, the consultation leaflet and one speaker stated there had been a large amount of tactical voting which should not be read as a no vote per se. Then the result was read out. Nobody mentioned the mis-leading leaflets from the PT.

      We need to move on and build the bridge that has planning permission before someone gets injured or killed on the town bridge. Sad to say, Based on my observations and experience since the 2nd March EGM – I simply no longer trust the Trust or bridge concern on this topic.
      Sad to say since I support other Trust projects.

    • Mr Macdonald continues to misunderstand/misrepresent the position of the Unity alternative footbridge and related matters.

      To rebut his points in order:-

      Unity has successfully undergone ‘pre-application’ consultations with the relevant officers in the planning authority who have stated that they foresee no problems for planning consent.

      Unity conforms with British Standards 8300 “Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people”. (If safety and security are issues, what about the taper of the Cable-stay deck which squeezes pedestrian and cycle flows? Or the monstrous mast and back-stay anchors which would obstruct Bridge Yard and invite malingering and vandalism?).

      The Preservation Trust receives no public subsidy. At the request of Town Council, it jointly administers Town Council’s subsidies for quality restoration of buildings, and contributes its own funding to these subsidies.

      Far from being a ‘spoiler’ for the footbridge project, the Unity design was developed by invitation through the Stakeholder Group which was set up by the Town Council to explore alternatives, after the Town Poll in April 2010 showed 70;30 majority doubting the Cable-stay design. That Group, which included Councillors and representatives of approving bodies, put ‘Unity 3’ to Town Council for serious consideration, only for it to be rejected out of hand for no good reasons. The recent Postal Ballot, despite its question skewed in favour of the Cable-stay design (which made tactical voting for No Bridge by Unity supporters inevitable), indicates another public thumbs-down for the Cable-stay.

      It beggars belief (to use Mr Macdonald’s phrase) to see yet again the losers claiming that those who would not or could not vote would disagree with the majority verdict of the 61% response of households against the Cable-stay.

      I would add that the Preservation Trust, which favours a foot/cycle bridge of appropriate design, appearance and cost, has been scrupulous and open in its claims for the simpler Unity design. This contrasts with the dogmatic and at times scurrilous propaganda in defence of the complicated Cable-stay, although the latter has not yet passed technical testing, nor found a cost-effective method of installation, nor does it even have a ceiling on its spiralling budget.

      (We understand that, sadly, the pedestrian situation on the town Bridge remains for the Highway Authority only a perceived danger rather than an actual hazard until there is a serious accident. Any volunteers?)

    • The bridge opponents have become so fixated on the mast that they have failed to grasp the most basic of issues, the ease of accessibility of the virtually flat deck of the cable stay bridge. This will ensure that no resident of BoA or visitor is disadvantaged in any way in their use of the bridge. How many people now do not use either the Town Bridge or the current footbridge because they cannot or are too scared to? We probably can’t answer that. What we can do though is take this opportunity to ensure we have a bridge of quality which disadvantages nobody. The cable stay offers us that opportunity. A flat deck is only possible with such a design. A beam bridge can never provide this unless it is so thick it dominates the river scene even more so than the “Unity3” design.

    • Oh, and by the way Max, ‘no’ may mean ‘no’ to you. Unfortunately, to the Preservation Trust who encouraged people to vote ‘no bridge at all’ to block the cable stay it means ‘yes’. They have now openly said they will be campaigning for their dreadful beam bridge design.

    • The (almost) flat deck of the Cable-stay footbridge design (a ‘flimsy gang-plank’ as viewed from the Town Bridge) would undoubtedly be an easier crossing for pedestrians, wheel-chairs etc (also higher speeds for cyclists and skateboarders?). But does that advantage really justify the intrusiveness and extravagance of all that unsightly exposed rusting steel in Bridge Yard, the cat’s-cradle of cabling above, and a foundation slab requiring about 80 cubic metres of concrete more than needed for the more economical Unity design? Hey, what about carbon footprint?

    • I would like to thank Mr Marks for confirming the fact, that Unity 3 was not at all at a comparable planning stage as the cable stay in his response above.

      The PT leaflet has indeed misled the town about the real planning status of unity 3.

      The rest of the response is unfortunate, particularly the comment about volunteers for accidents on the town bridge. Perhaps Mr Marks has forgotten my wife was struck by a wing mirror?
      An interesting insight into the thinking of the PT nonetheless.

      Does Mr Marks have in mind a conversion rate for the number and type of accidents before it is “worth” having a flat walkway?

      Does Mr Marks imagine that representatives of the disabled, the infirm, the elderly or families will want a bridge walk way with the steepness of unity3?

      Unity 3’s slopes are between 10 and 17 times steeper than the flat cable stay walkway.
      A toddler slips and falls and they bounce.
      Not everyone is so fortunate – a broken limb or broken joint will be the result for many others.

      Remember the bridge is for feet, bikes, walking sticks, wheelchairs, mobility scooters – doesn’t Mr Marks understand that not everyone is able bodied and steady on their feet? Does the PT not care about this issue?

      We just want townspeople and visitors in the newly expanded town centre to walk across the river to/from the library/ market/doctors/train station without either dicing with death on the town bridge or risking injury from slips, falls and collisions on a mixed use bridge. Thats more important than the aesthetics and it needs a flat walkway to maximise safety.

      I encourage everyone to write and complain to the Trustees of the PT and ask: why was the PT leaflet misleading about the planning and safety status of Unity3?

    • Despite promises of a reply to my question (now asked four times) how the mast and cable-stayed bridge can be erected from the south bank, asked both at Planning and General Council meetings, I have received no reply. This has forced me to conclude the Council has no acceptable/approved method of erecting their cable-stayed bridge or costing for doing so. Is the Town Council now going to admit to the public that it may not be possible to erect their iconic bridge and that they have known of this problem since February 2011 – too heavy for crane or helicopter.

      A future Council might well be far-sighted enough to plan a simple, pedestrian/cycle bridge, alongside and taking support from the eastern railway bridge, thus linking Bridge Street, Kingston Mill, Kingston Farm and the Cemetery. The matter of perceived pedestrian safety on the Town Bridge could be aleviated by a traffic preference scheme and a wider pavement. It would not however reduce the risk of walking along narrow pavements in Silver St and Market St.

    • I read Mrs Seeking’s comments on alternatives – railway bridge and traffic preference schemes.

      The bulk of the people and the public areas are opposite the library.

      Traffic preference – how long would it take before the air quality poisons the town and snarls up all traffic. I’m sure tourists will flock to see the longest traffic queue in WIltshire.

      I can see it now – Walkers are Welcome – well, at least the ones who survive the traffic and the pollution.

    • We already have the equivalent of traffic preference in Frome Rd and most people seem adult enough to politely give way to oncoming traffic. Unfortunately the box junction in Market St is frequently jammed up with traffic entering before the exit is clear and if any pavement is potentially dangerous it is this one not the Town Bridge.
      I’m sorry Mrs Macdonald suffered an injury from a wing mirror but without knowing the full facts – was she facing oncoming traffic on the outside pavement edge or with her back to the traffic – it’s impossible to comment or to use one accident as a pressing need for an additional very expensive footbridge.
      Richard, you never seem to mention the ease with which most people negotiate St Margaret’s footbridge – even a few cyclists manage to illegally ride over it. And, even Conigre is traversed by intrepid walkers, cyclists, skateboarders and electric wheelchairs – if you want flat earth don’t live in Bradford.