Making a decision about Lucy’s Mill Bridge – Here is ALL the evidence (LOTS OF IT NEW) – what do you think?
It’s a wonderful week here in Stratford. The River Festival will bring many many visitors to our town. We have a riverside walk that is so beautiful, a walk that goes down to Holy Trinity and then a few metres later takes people into the basin below the weirs and to Lucy’s Mill Bridge. Just now, these views are spectacular. The river is has many reed beds, and our swans, ducks and coots sail between them whilst people watch from the riverbank … and the bridge.
Boats arrive under Severn Meadows bridge to bubbling water and ancient trees. They pass the luxury flats that now stand where once was a working mill, and docks where coal was unloaded. Underneath Lucy’s Mill Bridge there are plaques to say when the bridge was first built and used, then when new versions were constructed. The first bridge was built in Shakespeare’s time.
We’ve counted people using the bridge. We’ve counted numbers throughout the day. Even early on a rainy Monday morning, more than 60 people an hour used the bridge – to go to work or to school, not just to walk for fun & fitness, or with their dog. Last Saturday more than 200 people an hour crossed over lunchtime. We’ve seen a ‘peak’ figure of over 300 an hour and the weekend of the River Festival that number will be exceeded.
But the bridge cannot be used by everyone and for many, just climbing the steep steps is difficult; families with pushchairs or children’s bikes, people with joint problems, people who want to get their bikes to the Greenway but don’t want to clog up the roads with a car. No-one who lives in Stratford, who has a wheelchair or a mobility scooter, can cross. If you live in Stratford, it’s very likely you know whether Lucy’s Mill Bridge is a bridge you can cross.
Yet when we counted people, it wasn’t every hour of every day of every week, but it was more than a handful of occasions when a visitor arrived, being helped by friends or riding along on a scooter that helps them have the same sort of access as their friends, and had to turn back. We surveyed for 32 hours. If the same patterns happened every week of the year, then … how many people came to the bridge and had to turn back?
These three features represent a year’s work in gathering all the evidence that we could, to show why Lucy’s Mill Bridge should be a bridge for everyone, and how this could be achieved. This option will cost money. It may be that public funding isn’t available at present and may not be for several years. We hope that this work will help people make a decision NOW about the future of the bridge, and that if needed, one option could be that the bridge becomes one supported by ‘the general public’. Every year that goes by, if you live in Stratford and know you cannot use the bridge, you don’t. If you are a visitor, you could start to enjoy our wonderful vistas … then have to turn back when you get to a bridge that isn’t fully accessible, but could be.
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