OPINION: Rhubarb, rhubarb... the public’s feedback is clear Peterborough City Council

Residents and councillors view the plans at the Salvation Army Citadel
Residents and councillors view the plans at the Salvation Army Citadel
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You could be forgiven for thinking that the award of the contract for the replacement of Rhubarb Bridge with level crossings was made as the public consultation on the plans began defies logic.

But we are assured the public consultation is a valid exercise and the council will listen to the feedback it gets.

Given the works are approved and, whatever form they take Skanska will have the contract, it is still essential that the city council listens to the wishes of residents and several key bodies and reacts to them - otherwise the consultation will have been a hollow exercise.

In the fiery debate on the scheme at this week’s scrutiny committee some of the things being said did not convince campaigners that all the options really have been fully explored.

Simon Machen, council corporate director for growth and regeneration, said the cost of funding a new bridge would be the same as two or three primary schools but also added that no appraisal of options other than the current scheme had been prepared because no scrutiny committee had ever asked for one – so are we to assume the onerous cost of a new bridge is simply a guestimate?

Cllr Peter Hiller’s glib assertion in regard to the safety of proposed crossings, which would be similar to the one in Bridge Street, that nobody had been ‘ploughed into’ in his memory is completely out of touch.

There are real concerns about the safety of the Bridge Street crossing, there have been accidents there and a concerned judge even wrote to the PT recently expressing his concern over the safety of the crossing.

The replacement for Rhubarb Bridge is an important indicator of the city’s ambitions in terms of sustainable transport and the safety of the many people who need to cross an incredibly busy junction daily.

The council has a difficult job and the public purse is not bottomless, but in terms of setting priorities the public feedback on Rhubarb Bridge is very clear.

Mark Edwards

Peterborough Telegraph Editor