The controversy over who pays for the new Barton Lifting Bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal continued at yesterday's full meeting of Salford City Council, with Irlam Councillor, Roger Jones, saying that Peel Holdings should be 'forced' to open it.
The Bridge, next to the M60 flyover at Barton, and part of the Western Gateway Infrastructure Scheme, or WGIS, subsidised with over £30million of public money, has been at the centre of a legal wrangle over who pays for its operation and maintenance.
Peel is insisting that Salford Council and Trafford Council should pay, while the authorities believe Peel should take responsibility. Meanwhile, there's currently a legal stalemate with the bridge due to open within the next couple of weeks and residents complaining about constant congestion.
"We're in a position where that road next week could open and the lifting bridge, but Peel have said at the eleventh hour 'We would like Trafford and Salford to pay...We want you to pay towards the maintenance of the structure of that bridge and towards the opening and closing of the bridge'" explained Councillor Jones, who is also Salford's Lead Member for Transport.
"The public have seen that bridge collapse once; who on earth would take liability for that bridge and the structure of it?" he asked "It's madness but Peel have raised it at the eleventh hour, with four or five weeks to go and, in effect, they are holding us to ransom because they're saying to Salford and Trafford 'If you don't pay up we're not opening the bridge'. Now I think that's scandalous.
"If that bridge doesn't open next week, then I hope that the powers that be in here and in Greater Manchester will do their level best to force Peel to open that bridge" he told the Salford Council meeting "That bridge wasn't just built with Peel money, it was built with public money as well, and the public have the right to get that bridge open."
Responding, Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, confirmed that Salford Council lawyers had become involved, and that he had met Peel's representatives the night before and asked them to open it "as soon as they possibly can"...
"What I'm being told is that works will be completed within the next week or two" he added "I'm fully committed to getting that bridge open as quick as possible to tackle congestion on our roads."
For a full background see previous related Salford Star articles...
Salford Council Held To Ransom By Peel Holdings Over New Ship Canal Bridge – click here
Sale Sharks Call Emergency Meeting With Salford Council Over 'Breaking Point' Stadium – click here
Photos by Steven Speed