Neglect closes bridge

A north bridge which had to be closed after a suspension cable snapped has been neglected for the last 15 years by the county council, local residents have claimed.

A north bridge which had to be closed after a suspension cable snapped has been neglected for the last 15 years by the county council, local residents have claimed.

The 137-metre Union Chain Bridge, which spans the River Tweed near Horncliffe, west of Berwick, was the longest in the world when it was built in 1820, and is still the oldest suspension bridge carrying road traffic.

But the Grade 1 listed structure was suddenly closed following a routine inspection by Northumberland County Council on March 28, and could be shut for six months while repairs are carried out.

It means traffic using it to cross into England or Scotland now have an 11-mile diversion to cross the river at Berwick or Norham, including school children due to return to class after the Easter holidays.

Highways chiefs blamed high winds as a possible cause for snapping one of the bridge hangers. But locals say lack of maintenance is more likely.

Edward Cawthorn, who runs the Chain Bridge House bed and breakfast with wife Livvy, said: "Sadly, many of us feel that it has been neglected because of a lack of funds."

But county councillor Dougie Watkin said: "The bridge is inspected every six months, and any work that needed to be done has been done."

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