RESIDENTS hope engineers will today give the go-ahead for Tadcaster ’s bridge to reopen, after severe flooding forced its closure and divided the town.

Experts feared the bridge over the River Wharfe might have suffered structural damage after water was seen seeping through joints between the stonework.

The closure split the community in two, with residents unable to walk from one side to the other and motorists facing a long diversion along the A64 via Bilbrough Top to get between the east side and the west.

North Yorkshire County Council said it hoped structural engineers would be able to fully examine the bridge today to see if it was safe to reopen, but stressed that an inspection could not take place until river levels had receded.

A number of residents complained to The Press yesterday that they were unable to use a disused railway viaduct to cross the Wharfe because access to it had been blocked some months ago by Samuel Smith’s Brewery.

Town mayor Stephen Cobb appealed for the brewery to show a “community spirit” and reopen an access route to the viaduct and, within hours, a temporary access was created by staff via Rosemary Row.

Coun Cobb welcomed the move, which came even though the brewery was having to deal with flooding in its packaging and garage area at the back of the brewery.

Several properties on both sides of the river were flooded, although police said flood defences and pumping equipment saved many more from being inundated.

The Bridge Street Dental Surgery was flooded just after a major refurbishment project had been completed, but practice manager Nicola Eades said the damage was restricted to carpets and flooring after the surgery bought a pump on Tuesday night and staff removed many other items to higher levels.

She said about 60 patients missed their appointments yesterday but she hoped it would be possible to reopen the upstairs surgery today.

Mel Pratt, a partner at Calcaria Carpets in Commercial Street, said he arrived at work at 7am to find water coming through the back door. A trickle soon became a torrent and though staff managed to lift some of the stock away from the flood water much had been damaged.

“The water came in really really fast,” he said.

Gary and Debbie Wilder, licensees at the nearby Bay Horse, said the bar was knee-deep in water. Debbie said customers helped them move tables, chairs, fruit machines and carpets to higher levels on Tuesday evening, adding: “They (the customers) were fabulous.”