TADCASTER will get its badly needed temporary footbridge with or without the co-operation of local landowner Humphrey Smith, its town councillors have heard.
At an extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday, the town council praised the help and support residents and businesses have received from far and wide since the devastating floods broke its bridge over the River Wharfe.
Councillors unanimously and unconditionally approved the use of council land for the footbridge. Currently the only connection between the two halves of the town is a disused viaduct, which is difficult for those with pushchairs or mobility problems.
They condemned the decision of Mr Smith, of Samuel Smith’s Brewery, not to allow the use of his land for a temporary footbridge unless he has a say on the shape of the new permanent road bridge, which is a listed building.
The town’s mayor, Cllr Don MacKay, said that if the bridge could not go there, the authorities had other possibilities, but he called on Mr Smith to back down, saying: “It would be his opportunity to redeem himself.”
Meanwhile, yesterday's front page open letter from The Press to Samuel Smith's Brewery boss Humphrey Smith, urging him to allow his land to be used for the footbridge, was hand-delivered to the brewery by Chief Reporter Mike Laycock. The brewery has not yet responded.
Residents backed our call for the brewery to change its stance, saying it was essential the two sides of the town were re-connected as soon as possible.
One told how a frail elderly woman had been to the doctors' surgery on one side of the town and then could not get across the river to visit the pharmacy in the other side of town.
Carers Simone Lewis and Carol Tomlinson said they were having to drive many hundreds of miles each week along lengthy diversions via the A64 to repeatedly get from one side of the town to the other to visit the people they cared for. Resident Christine Teasdale said she believed the brewery's refusal to let its land be used was 'disgusting.'
Meanwhile, Tadcaster Albion Football Club says it has offered up its car park to North Yorkshire County Council to be used for a footbridge crossing of the river to the council-run Britannia car-park, instead of the brewery-owned land.
It said residents had voted overwhelmingly in favour of the plans in an online poll.
Club Chairman Matt Gore said the town needed a bridge now, adding: "We have approached the council about using our land and we’re hopeful that it provides an effective solution for everyone involved.”