|Pinch Farm Bridge in February|
An officer for Oldham Council’s Unity Partnership told us the bridge was considered to pose a significant risk to members of the public and was also deemed to be irreparable as many of the principal elements of the structure had failed or were about to fail.
However, the Society is critical of Oldham Council for allowing the bridge to get into that condition. Photographs over a number of years show that brickwork had not been re-pointed and grass had been allowed to grow on the wooden deck, possibly contributing to the corrosion of the ironwork.
|The same view in April|
Some members have suggested that the bridge should have been ‘Listed’. However, this would have reduced the options for repairing or replacing parts of the bridge but would not have prevented its demolition once it was deemed unsafe.
Sadly, with the budgets of local councils being cut severely, it seems possible that there could be more instances arising where the duty to ensure public safety could trump the duty to protect historic assets.
Angela Rayner, the MP in whose constituency the canal lies, met with canal society members at Daisy Nook in the week following the bridge’s removal. The meeting, planned since January, was to give Angela an opportunity to see the historic features in the country park. She was dismayed to see what was left of the bridge.
|Local MP Angela Rayner examines the remains|
of the bridge on a long-planned visit to see the
Jim McMahon, the new MP for Oldham West and Royton and Councillor for the ward that includes Pinch Farm, was familiar with the bridge and expressed shock at its sudden removal, feeling that the heritage value of the bridge had not been taken into account. He would welcome the Society’s thoughts on how to put the matter right.
He said the council needs to develop a meaningful heritage asset list and management plan to ensure this can not be allowed to happen again.
Following the Society’s complaint of a lack of consultation a regular partnership meeting has now been set up between Oldham’s Asset Management team and the three canal societies with interests within Oldham.
|The view towards Crime Lake minus the bridge|