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Recently was brought to our attention some videos on the YouTube website, showing Valley Bridge in Scarborough.
This bridge, according to the Scarborough Borough Council website, is “inspected and maintained” by the Borough Council, for North Yorkshire County Council (under a Highways Agreement).
Put simply, Scarborough Borough Council would appear to be charged with regularly inspecting the bridge for damage, ‘wear and tear’, or any other issue that could affect the structure, and safety of the people who use the bridge.
That said, it could be quite logical to assume that the bridge is inspected on a monthly, bi-annual, or even annual basis, to ensure that it is in excellent condition, and that any issues are remedied as soon as practicable. This would certainly ensure that the bridge remained in good order, and would last for generations to come.
Although it hasn’t been possible to find out, before publishing this article, it is somewhat safe to assume that Scarborough Borough Council is spending some money on the “inspection” and “maintenance” of the bridge; that someone, at least, is employed to inspect, and that at least one person is employed or contracted to carrry out maintenance/repairs when needed; also, that some of this is paid for by money raised through the Council Tax charged to people throughout the Borough.
The bridge is an historic structure, built originally in 1865, and widened in 1928, it has become an iconic part of the town and is a vital link for the town from the South. It stands to reason that because this is such an important structure it would be well maintained, and inspected often to ensure it is in good order.
However, it now seems that this is not the case.
Real Whitby has been sent two YouTube links detailing some of the horrifying damage and neglect to the bridge.
Video 1 can be seen here.
Video 2 can be seen here.
As can be seen in both videos, there appears to be a lot of damage to the bridge. Whilst it is clear that the bridge is still standing and appears to be structurally sound, there is cause for some questioning of this.
Worse, it would seem that because of the poor condition of some of the structure, that there is a case for endangerment of human life.
In a Scarborough Evening News article from November 2011, there is the suggestion that a glass bottle dropped from the bridge could kill someone if they were to be hit by it. At the very least, they could be seriously injured. However, what if a piece of the metal work of the bridge were to fall and hit you? There could be no doubt that serious injury and likely death would occur.
In Video 2 from the link above, a piece of metal easily smashes a thick glass jar from a small height. Valley Bridge is dozens of feet above ground, and this piece of metal is not insignificant.
After these videos were made, a search under the bridge was made, and it was discovered that there are indeed a good number of metal fragments that have fallen from the bridge – quite a number were collected, and lots of these would be lethal if they were to hit you. One piece is much bigger than that shown in the videos, and we’ve managed to get a photo comparing some of these pieces.
It is easy to see from the picture that large fragments of metal almost half an inch thick would do some serious damage to life and limb, not even bothering to mention property (remember a road and several footpaths work their way under Valley Bridge).
The following photo show just a selection of fragments picked up from underneath the bridges. It should be noted that some of these were picked up next to footpaths, and the Valley Road itself. Imagine one of these larger fragments falling and hitting a motorist during the busy summer…
We are left to wonder just who is responsible for this neglect. How can it be that the bridge is in such a poor state of repair that such large and lethal objects are just falling off without anything being done to prevent this?
We are left with the idea that anyone brave enough to venture under the bridge is in serious danger. Could it be that Scarborough Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council are so negligent or incompetent that they are happy to endanger human life?
Further to this concept is the possibility that it isn’t the public underneath the bridge who are at risk, but those using the bridge itself. When images like the following one show very clearly that the structure underneath the thick iron cladding is so badly corroded, and so much so that it disintegrates at the lightest touch.
Neglect of a structure such as this is a clear indication that someone is not doing his or her job. This sort of behaviour would likely get someone working in the private sector sacked for gross misconduct. Might that be the case here, or might it be a case that it will be swept under the carpet as so often seems to be the case.
So, what are the two Councils doing about this?
Taking a look at the NYCC website showing bridge repairs, it is readily apparent that no work is scheduled for Valley Bridge.
Scarborough Borough Council doesn’t appear to have a page dedicated to maintenance works of this nature. One can only conclude that no work is scheduled at all.
Once more, we are at liberty to ask the all important question, ‘why?’
North Yorkshire County Councillor, Gareth Dadd, is the Portfolio-Holder for this sort of thing, and has been involved in controversy before over the Spa Bridge in Scarborough, which showed problems shortly after that bridge had been refurbished at the significant cost of around £800K. Details of this can be found on the Scarborough News website here.
Whilst Real Whitby has so far not been able to Contact Cllr Dadd , we will be making every endeavour to do so over the coming days for a full statement regarding this serious issue.