Harold Wood residents will be aware that, since May, the ‘rainbow bridge’ connecting Harold Wood park with Pages Wood has been closed first due to safety concerns before then being condemned as an unsafe structure. Consequently, residents seeking to enter Pages Wood from Harold Wood park have had to use a diversion via the summer meadow which has become treacherous in wet weather and has severely limited the accessibility of Pages Wood.
Since the bridge was first closed, I have engaged frequently with Forestry England, who manage Pages Wood and are responsible for the bridge, to represent constituents’ concerns at the closure of the bridge and to offer any assistance that I may provide to bring about the swift replacement of the bridge. Unfortunately, works to replace the bridge have not progressed as swiftly as had been hoped and this is partly due to the information which must be gathered to support an application for permissions from the Environment Agency to work on a watercourse.
Following recent discussion, the Council called a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the project to which my office was represented. At the meeting, Forestry England confirmed that an application had been made to the Environment Agency to remove the existing structure however the Environment Agency had requested additional information from contractors which is currently being obtained. As soon as this has been provided I shall be making my own representations to DEFRA Ministers and the Chair of the Environment Agency to highlight both my own and the communities interest in this application and request the application be swiftly considered. It is anticipated that the current structure will be removed before the end of the financial year and plans for the replacement bridge are currently under development to ensure that they can be implemented as swiftly as possible.
In the meantime, the Council are laying plaining materials across the diversion which, while not making the diversion as accessible as the original route, will greatly improve the safety of the route in wet conditions. These works are anticipated to be completed during week commencing 17 January.
My team and I will continue to maintain close contact with Forestry England and will provide whatever support we can to this project.