WHEN my wife and I were looking to relocate from London to Spalding one factor we considered was that the Stepping Stones Lane rail footbridge provided for me, a convenient unchaperoned unchauffeured access to the town centre.
Then, as now, each of the interested parties, Railtrack, county Highways and the district council disclaimed responsibility for the bridge. Then, as now, the bridge by design was inappropriate for the 21st century. Then the bridge was old and poorly maintained, now it is new and maintenance remains a problem. Then, as now, the bridge raised health and safety concerns. Then and now it was unlit.
The old East Midlands Electricity Board funded a community lighting programme. I submitted a scheme for a £2,000 grant to restore lights to the bridge. My proposal was for a large road light detached from the bridge structure to minimise vandalism and sited to light up the eastern approach and the carriageway of the bridge. A condition attached to the new residential development off Park Road had foreshortened the western end of the bridge and the footpath to the west was to be lit to the base of the steps. My proposal included laying a new power cable extension from the improved Kings Road access to the Holland Markets to the proposed motorway sized road light at the bridge.
The EMEB received an assurance from County Highways that if the scheme was built they would adopt the new light and accept responsibility for operating costs and maintenance. I was awarded the grant for £2,000 and the EMEB implemented the scheme.
I suspect that in replacing the old bridge with the new the power cable was either severed or the power cut off and it was forgotten about.
So then, as now, the involved parties remain unable to agree who is responsibility for the lack of lighting or reach an accommodation between themselves to reduce increasing risk of injury and insecurity which for many people makes bridge a no-go area.
My suggestion is an agreement could be reached to make minor adjustments to the alignment of the railway security fencing to facilitate access to the existing street lighting for maintenance by county council, the power cable to be replaced or restored and the bridge to be lit once more.
There are 11 district councillors for Spalding each with a modest budget to spend on little things to improve their constituents’ environment. After allowing for inflation over the past 12 years £400 from all 11 councillors or £1,500 from the councillors representing the Wygate or Castle Ward could restore the light.
The county Highways’ contribution would be to meet the modest annual power bill and maintenance charges. Network Rail could allow access to their land without compromising their security strategy so that county Highways could maintain the light when necessary and district councillors make a financial contribution towards the minor realignment of the security fence.