The FOOTBRIDGE forming a key part of the River Tamar Discovery Trail Walkway and Wetland Project in Calstock has been given an extra vote of confidence this week.

Calstock parish councillors debated at last week’s full council meeting whether to take on ownership of the bridge and walkway as a community asset, and the strength of the vote in favour demonstrated clear confidence in its future benefit to the community.

Concerns were first raised during 2022 when the force of the river’s flowing water created a scouring effect which resulted in a partial deepening of the breach across which the bridge spans. At the meeting, Councillor Alastair Tinto explained that further monitoring and investigation work over the past year by the Environment Agency and professional surveys commissioned by the Tamar Community Trust, have proven that the bridge remains secure and will likely provide access for decades to come.

The footbridge was the final piece of the jigsaw in the £3.1 million flood defence scheme which protects the village. The footbridge itself was delivered by the Tamar Community Trust in partnership with the Environment Agency, Calstock Parish Council, Calstock Footpath Society and the Tamar Valley AONB.

Following last week’s vote, Calstock Parish Council will now take on ownership of the bridge and the walkway, along with Town Farm Field. 

It was announced that  the Tamar Community Trust will ensure ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the bridge. The parish council also confirmed they will also be setting aside £3,000 a year for a contingency fund to support any longer term costs to the superstructure that the parish council will be responsible for.

Cllr Alastair Tinto, Calstock ward councillor, recommended that the council should take ownership of the bridge, stating:“We’ve worked closely with the Environment Agency and Tamar Community Trust to explore thoroughly the impact of the scour and any possible impact on the bridge. Based upon professional surveys and recommendations, together we’ve developed a monitoring plan and a maintenance schedule. We are confident that the bridge will be sustainable for the foreseeable future. 

“Our fears are much less than anticipated. I feel reassured. The footpath is such an important asset for our community. We are delighted that it will be preserved for our community to enjoy and that Town Farm Field will also become another community asset.”

Cllr Tinto’s recommendation was met with some debate from a couple of councillors who raised concerns about the council taking on financial responsibility for the bridge. However, the point was also raised by Cllr Tinto that the Environment Agency could potentially close the bridge if the council would not agree to take on ownership.

Cll Tinto said: “The bridge is not necessary for the flood defence. The EA could close the footbridge permanently if ownership is not taken. We should use our best endeavours to keep it open.”

A decision which the councillors unanimously voted in favour for. 

Sarah Gibson, manager of the Tamar Valley AONB, said: “The footbridge is an integral part of the community’s enjoyment of the area so we’re delighted that Calstock Parish Council have voted to take ownership of the bridge.”

Jane Kiely, chair of the Tamar Community Trust added: “The Tamar Community Trust has worked tirelessly with partners and we are committed to maintaining the bridge and the walkway to ensure the enjoyment of the area for many years to come. 

“Helping to safeguard its use is important and we’re extremely pleased to be working in partnership with Calstock Parish Council to ensure the bridge has a long future.”