'Cheshire East foots the bill through incompetence'

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Cheshire East Council is planning to repair and strengthen Varden Bridge on Adlington Road, which local residents say is required because they have failed to enforce the weight restriction.

The Grade II Listed structure, which was built in the late 18th Century, has two cracks on the arch barrel, which will be remediated through masonry repairs and grouting.

Local resident Peter Davenport said "This bridge has been heavily used, particularly, since the Bollin Park Estate was commenced by grossly overweight vehicles delivering bricks, cement, concrete, and countless other materials, for at least 3 years. Also for removing spoil from the site."

He added "There have at least 10 (overweight vehicles) per day for this period of 3 years. On top of this the road signage is wrong, and quite frankly Cheshire East are not in the least slightly interested. Sew and ye shall reap. No one has taken the trouble to check all the invoices from the firms involved, so Cheshire East foots the bill through incompetence."

The Council is is proposing to erect a temporary scaffold, carry out the masonry repair, remove the scaffold, drill and grout through the carriageway, resurface the carriageway and then re-open road.

The application for listed building consent states "The scheme has been proposed due to the structures current assessed capacity of 18T and to address the defects in order to maintain the condition of the bridge and ensure its longevity, CEH intend to remediate the structure to a capacity of 40/44T as a result of the proposed works."

The proposed works, which will not alter the appearance of the bridge, will take approximately 7 weeks and are scheduled to be carried out July to September 2018.

The application states "The road closure will be in place for no longer than 2 weeks and shall be in place following completion of the masonry remedial works."

Upon completion the Council says the bridge will be capable of sustaining 40-44 tonnes.

The planning application can be viewed on the Cheshire East Council website by searching for reference 17/4356M. The last date for submitting comments is 12th October and a decision is expected by 30th October.

Planning Applications, Varden Bridge


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Nick Jones
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 12:53 pm
"Cheshire East" and "incompetence" once more in the same sentence for the same
reasons Ignoring the public, ignoring common sense.
And this bridge only being a matter of Yards from the Lyme Green Cllrs residence.
Isn't it an offence to damage listed assets ( or condone same ) ?
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 2:41 pm
The weight limit of the bridge was brought to the attention of Cheshire East at a meeting between the Head of Strategic Infrastructure (Andrew Ross), the former Cllr Whiteley and Nigel Curtis from Highways in February 2014 when considering the Adlington Rd site (FOI 809188), and its weakness was referenced as an objection to the planning application in the Officer’s Report to the Strategic Planning Board. It was in this context that the Applicant’s Environmental Management Plan states, “all order/deliveries will be notified of the weak bridge known as Vardon Bridge on Adlington Road. Where possible access to Adlington Rd is to be taken from the Dean Row/Adlington Rd roundabout”. So three years later what we have is a bridge signposted to take a maximum limit of 26tns and it now has an “assessed capacity” below that and needs remedial work if the bridge owner is to be protected from liability.
Terry Roeves
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 3:03 pm
I am genuinely upset that CEC make no effort to consider pedestrians and cyclists across this narrow historic bridge.
Many residents highlighted its limitations and danger as a weak pinch point during the planning process for Bollinwood Chase, the need for a weight limit, the need for a pavement and a provision for cyclists.
Council people and Cllrs agreed to make a condition of the planning consent that deliveries to the site would NOT use the bridge. Yet here we are today, with a damaged bridge AND the council having the cheek to want 40/44 tonnes weight limit - the highest for our roads. Did they ever check vehicle weights? If so, when? The weight restriction, from memory was 18 tonnes. That increased as the Bollinwood building commenced to 26t. Now a proposed 44t!!
So we get nothing. The priority is heavy goods vehicles for builders. Was it ever us residents as tax payers, as pedestrians or as cyclists?
Our MP, borough and town councillors really do need, with all urgency to
sort this out. It stinks.
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 3:24 pm
Terry - think you refer to Bollin Park rather than Bollinwood Chase. You are correct about pedestrian access though. A brand new footpath put in down to the bridge, but the first stretch of it not wide enough for pedestrians with a pushchair or anyone who is disabled and then you have to walk sideways over the bridge to cross to the other side to meet up with the entrance to the other side of the Bollin. The footpath should have been on the opposite side of the road - but then again that would have meant buying a small slice of land from United Utilities and the house on the corner.
Jon Armstrong
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 3:54 pm
A few points...

- Whilst Bollin Park may have accelerated the problems, over sized and over weight vehicles have been using this road for decades and we'd be facing this issue anyway.

- I don't understand exactly what people want out of the bridge and footpath. The bridge is not wide enough for two lanes of traffic, very wide pavements for prams, a cycleway and all the other things suggested. So what is the solution? Replace the bridge, which rather goes against people being upset it is damaged? Build a second bridge in parallel for cyclists and pedestrians? I can't see people being happy with the view being so dramatically changed. Reduce the traffic to light-controlled single lane, to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians? Some locals complained when the speed limit was reduced to 30, so I can't see support for that. So what is the answer?

- I doubt any bridge in Cheshire has some sort of active weight enforcement system, where someone turns away overweight vehicles. So assuming this isn't viable, what is the alternative? Putting in a physical height restriction could stop lorries and coaches, but would be very ugly. Putting a chicane in the road would also work, as in Wilmslow Park, but I refer again to my previous point about how some people were so opposed to the speed limit reduction so I can't see that being supported either.

It's easy to criticise, but what viable solutions are there?
Nick Jones
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 4:19 pm
Quick fix COULD BE; Weight / Direction / Alternative route signs with traffic calming measures of some capacity.
Permanent fix,( whatever the resolution )would be expensive. It might be proportionate to try the above in some format first.
Common sense prognosis would be enforcement ! but that's not... and wont happen.
Terry Roeves
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 5:33 pm
Jackie - apologies for the typo.
Jon - fair points, BUT why go through the charade, other than to pull the wool over our eyes, knowing the weight restriction was never going to be enforceable?
A footbridge along side and a crossing would provide a contiguous path to the Hough corner.
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 6:43 pm
Jon - whilst undoubtedly the bridge would always need strengthening in the long run, the issue is how far allowing overweight vehicles to use it on a regular basis has exacerbated the situation. The bridge is examined on a two yearly cycle at the most because of its listed status and this means that it has significantly deteriorated within the space of two years.

As to the width of the bridge, - we were told it was wide enough for two lanes of traffic. Drawings by the applicant showed the road up to Wilmslow Park North as being wide enough to have 2 lanes, a footpath and a cyclist envelope to allow for overtaking. Anyone who knows this road also knows that it is impossible to overtake a cyclist on this stretch because you would be on the opposite side of the road close to a blind bend. The solution was to create a footpath on the opposite side of the road. This would have meant that the road could have been widened and the footpath would be on "new land" owned by United Utilities and private houses. This was a viable solution which was not taken. If it proved impossible to buy this land then it was better not to have the footpath because by putting one in you are encouraging people to believe that it is safe to use.

As to bridges "turning away vehicles", - many listed, low weighted bridges have cameras to enforce the weight limit. The viable solution is to have the sign for the bridge and its weight limit on the Prestbury Road roundabout. Where the sign is now situated - when it it is not obscured by trees - it is too late for a lorry to turn round because the road is not wide enough to do so.

All of these issues must have been known.
Matthew Cheetham
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 7:00 pm
There needs to be a footpath and unfortunately the bridge just isn't wide enough. The answer is a new bridge which they should have got the developers of Bollin Park to partly fund.
Peter Davenport
Thursday 14th September 2017 at 9:07 pm
Before the footpath was built near Varden Bridge, I suggested to the planners, and sent a sketch, that the path should be on the other side of the road, to where it is now, then a small wooden footbridge on the side of the bridge could be built, for bikes and pedestrians, and connected to where the old part of Davylands Lane could be resurrected, and the problem would be solved. The money for this should have been extracted from the builders at Bollin Park.
I wrote to CE re the road safety in this area, and the email was totally ignored for at least 6 weeks, and then begrudgingly sent on to the road department. On the road near the bridge, the footpath stops about 10 yards short, and I see mothers with buggies negotiating this last bit, to great danger to themselves and the child. Some caring Council, as the footpath along this stretch is not maintained, and under width for buggies.Now we hear that the public comments are ignored, so I hope we do not see some of CE's officials had up for corporate manslaughter, as all warnings are ignored.
Manuel Golding
Friday 15th September 2017 at 3:35 pm
Cheshire East Council, oops sorry, I mean our Rotten Borough, is once more happy to let the "guilty" parties get away without facing up to their causing the damage to the bridge.
The developers/builders clearly knew of the weight limitation but have been more than happy to turn blind eyes to THEIR contractors over weight trucks crossing this bridge.
The council should be telling both Jones Homes & David Wilson that they will be having to foot the bill due to their constructive negligence. They were clearly told, so ignorance on their part is not an excuse, before any development work commenced on Adlington Rd, that the max weight was 18t but were not prepared to enforce the limit. They would have ignored the limit to save money & time but now is the time for them to face their responsibilities and the possible criminal damage they have encouraged.
Three other issues with Vardon Bridge - what justification is there to increase the weight limit to 44t, why is it necessary for such a narrow bridge and surely now is the opportunity to build a pedestrian & cycle bridge alongside? As suggested by Peter Davenport.
Without a footbridge and with the increased weight of the lorries, there is the increasing possibility of a child or pedestrian being badly or worse, fatally injured. This council has been long forewarned it could face corporate manslaughter charges if such a tragedy occurred.
Ryan Dance
Friday 15th September 2017 at 8:10 pm
Yawn. Usual suspects...usual reams of clap trap......same story.

Been reading the same stuff contributed by the same people for many years.....While the same very people live in fairly desirable postcodes!!!!

Whilst it may not be eloquent or
Indeed intellectual. BORE OFF.
Dave Cash
Saturday 16th September 2017 at 1:29 am
To whom are you referring, Ryan?
Kathryn Blackburn
Tuesday 19th September 2017 at 3:18 pm
@Ryan pot and kettle.
David Nelson
Wednesday 20th September 2017 at 3:52 pm
It sickens me yet again, to see the total incompetence of CEC at great cost to the Cheshire east residents.
Please can we have an organisation that is "fit for purpose"?
Buster Wild
Wednesday 20th September 2017 at 5:31 pm
Close the road for two weeks!!! Has anyone from from CE seen the traffic on the roads from Wilmslow,Handforth and the airport to the Unicorn roundabout at 5 pm every night. It is horrendous, the worst in the whole of the Macclesfield area and CE in their wisdom will make it a nightmare. Who or what have we got on the council? The Chuckle Brothers? Please let our MP's sort this mess out and don't let anything be swept under the carpet as usual.
Simon Worthington
Thursday 21st September 2017 at 12:24 pm
Sorry Ryan the no doubt cryptic message yet again escapes me.
Why is this road open to heavy vehicles at all. When the new SEMMMS by pass opens hopefully all these roads will become strictly access only for these vehicles. Hawthorn Street is subject to these restrictions and they are often ignored.
Cameras and hefty fines are needed.
Toni Fox
Thursday 21st September 2017 at 2:29 pm

I cannot answer residents concerns about events prior to my election in 2015 however I have spoken with officers about the current situation and the planning application that has been submitted and can clarify the following.

Since 1999 the UK has been obliged to allow 40/44T lorries on UK roads. The works proposed will ensure this bridge will be brought up to this capacity as required by the Construction and use Regulations.

Officers acknowledge that the current informative signage on the current weight restriction should have been sited where drivers had an option to take an alternative route, however, the use of sat navs exacerbates this type of problem. Existing signage will be removed on completion of the works.

Enforcement of overweight vehicles using the bridge is the responsibility of the police not the Council.

Because of its Grade II listing the works proposed require planning permission, similarly this listing limits alterations that can be made to it.

It is intended to undertake the necessary works in July to September 2018.

Highways officers will implement a diversion route and advisory signs not to use the undadopted road on Wilmslow Park North.

Please contact me directly - my contact details are available on the Cheshire East Council website - if you would like to discuss this further.

Councillor Toni Fox - Independent
Dean Row Ward - Wilmslow
Nick Jones
Thursday 21st September 2017 at 3:58 pm
How pleasing; A local Councillor demonstrating concern, involvement and providing relevant information to the Wilmslow community. Thank You Toni.

Wilmslow 4 Take note !
Manuel Golding
Friday 22nd September 2017 at 5:41 pm
Thanks Toni for pursuing this matter and receiving a comprehensive response from the relevant Officers.
I accept the EU dictact that UK & others have need to comply to lorries of 40/44t on our roads BUT the Varden Bridge is currently unfit & not roadworthy for vehicles over 18t and will not be suitable for the heavier lorries until late 2018. Therefore, in the interim allowing heavier trucks to use the bridge before remedial works is, to say the least courting a disaster. If, as the council officers say, it is the police job to enforce then the council should be directing the constabulary to the danger.
Sitting back with hands over ears & eyes & proclaiming "It is not uz guv" is not an accountable position to take, especially by officers of a public authority. Having been informed of the dangers this is not a responsible position to adopt - at least let Cllr Fox and the public see the email trail of the Officers concern to the police and requesting some enforcement.
Kathryn Blackburn
Saturday 23rd September 2017 at 2:10 pm
Sorry but do not understand why we are future complying when we are withdrawing from the EU. Why on earth are the poor residents of Adlington Road now going to have to put up with over weight trucks on this narrow winding road for ever more ? Sheer nonsense.
Ryan Dance
Saturday 23rd September 2017 at 6:55 pm
Kathryn...poor and Adlington road don’t belong in the same sentence.
Kathryn Blackburn
Sunday 24th September 2017 at 8:27 am
Careful Ryan your red underskirt is showing.