After all the threats flying between Salford City Council, Trafford Council and Peel Holdings, the Barton Lifting Bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal finally opened this afternoon.
Salford Council and Trafford Council are convinced that the estimated £150,000 annual cost of the maintenance and liabilities for the bridge should be paid by Peel Holdings, while Peel disputes this and has threatened to make the bridge a toll. The legal wrangle has been going on for weeks, while the bridge - subsidised with £30million of public money - remained shut, and traffic from Irlam, Cadishead and beyond was snagged up in constant jams.
The Salford Star exclusively broke the story of the rift and delayed bridge opening on 1st November, quoting Irlam ward councillor and Salford Council Transport Lead, Roger Jones, confirming that the matter "is now being dealt with by our legal representatives"... (see previous Salford Star article – click here)
While these legal wrangles were being played out behind closed doors, the community took matters into their own hands with a huge 'Force Peel Holdings To Open Salford Lifting Bridge' campaign, that resulted, on 9th December, in protesters blocking off the road into the Trafford Centre.
Last Friday, Salford Council, Trafford Council and Peel Holdings issued a joint guarded statement that the bridge "will open upon completion of works and approvals being granted", and adding that discussions will continue in the meantime about who will pay the "maintenance and ongoing liabilities".
As residents gathered at the bridge this afternoon, videos were posted on Facebook proclaiming a huge 'people power' victory...
"We all got together and put two fingers up against corporate companies" said Alan Whitehead of Moss Farm Fisheries, whose business was put up for sale due to the traffic chaos "We've made them open this...everybody complaining...We've bullied the bullies, it's brilliant...We should be proud of ourselves...
"Isn't it brilliant when people get behind each other and say 'No' to the bullies?" he added "We've beaten them...the people have done this..."
Another video posted by fellow campaigner, Phil Hall, who rode the first bicycle over the bridge, shouted, to a background of beeping car horns... "People power! Salford power!"
All that remains to be seen now is, firstly, whether the bureaucrats have got their calculations right and that the traffic flows freely, and, secondly, who is actually going to cough up the annual £150,000 to keep the bridge open...
For a full background see previous Salford Star articles...
Force Peel Holdings to Open Lifting Bridge Says Irlam Councillor - click here
Sale Sharks at Breaking Point Over Traffic Chaos Stadium - click here
Irlam and Cadishead Community Slams Barton Lifting Bridge Chaos as Peel Holdings and Salford Council Wrangle Continues - click here
Trafford Centre Road Blocked By Barton Lifting Bridge Protesters – click here
Irlam Residents Open Controversial Bridge Themselves – click here