No-vehicle bridge brings dismay and problems at Copley in Halifax

No vehicle route: Claire Hoyle, Carol O'Connell, Coun Marilyn Greenwood and Richard O'Connell at Wilson Bridge
No vehicle route: Claire Hoyle, Carol O'Connell, Coun Marilyn Greenwood and Richard O'Connell at Wilson Bridge

Homeowners left in limbo after a flood-damaged bridge re-opened as a non-vehicle route are challenging Calderdale Council to give an alternative access legal status.

Wilson Bridge, previously Copley Bridge, was destroyed in the Boxing Day 2015 floods but although it re-opened in October providing access for pedestrians, horses and non-motorised vehicles, some homes now have no vehicular route over it.

On their property deeds the homeowners had Copley Bridge as a right of way. Now their only vehicular access is via a bridleway. Although not an ideal solution, they are asking the council to put this as a legal right of access onto their deeds, said Councillor Marilyn Greenwood, who has taken up the issue.

Coun Greenwood said: “Only at the end of 2016 did we discover it was going to be a footbridge. Their only access now is a bridle path. Milk tankers and hay lorries are asking ‘do I have to go down here?’ but there is no other access.

“I have been lobbying the council to allow them to legally have the access on their deeds. I feel they have been forgotten.”

Resident Paul Barron pointed out the residents paid rates and as well as the basic problems, not having a legal right of access sale of properties would be more difficult. It also meant emergency services using satellite navigation could be diverted away. There would be benefits for the council and bridleway users, he said: “We used to repair the bridleway and between us the four properties would fill in the potholes.” Mr Richard O’Connell, who farms with his brother Stephen, said their working dairy farm needed access and reiterated their deeds said the bridge had been a right of way for the farm and they had been entitled to maintain the road to their satisfaction. The bridleway option would at least give homeowners a right of way.

Calderdale Council’s head of legal and democratic services, Ian Hughes, said collapse of the bridge had raised a number of complex legal issues regarding access for a small number of properties. “Alternative vehicle access for these properties is over land owned by the council and we’re currently in the process of exploring what access rights we can grant over council land and on what terms. This is a very complicated and unusual legal situation, but we hope to reach a solution for the property owners as soon as possible.”