Email exchange with Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol re the Green Iron Bridge

After nearly five years of waiting, campaigning & general Council dithering over the restoration of the Green Iron Bridge, I recently wrote to the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, for an update. Here is the correspondence and his reply:


From: Dan Linstead
Date: Sunday, 10 May 2020 at 20:35
To: mayor@bristol.gov.uk
Subject: How can you fix a city, if you can’t fix a footbridge?

Dear Marvin

I was interested to read your recent opinion piece on the need to redesign Bristol as a more innately sustainable city in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown. As you say, “We need a system that makes low impact living something our system provides even if you are not thinking about it or able to spend the extra”. I agree.

With that thought in mind, I would like to bring your attention back to the plight of the Green Iron Bridge at Kingsweston, near your childhood home in Lawrence Weston. As you know, this well-used and historic footbridge over the B4057 Kings Weston Road has now been closed to walkers, schoolchildren, families and other locals for nearly FIVE YEARS. 

The bridge is the only safe crossing between the Blaise and Kingsweston estates, which are regularly used by thousands of people, during lockdown and otherwise. Designed in 1820 by the great roadbuilder John McAdam, this elegant bridge is a perfect example of an amenity which encourages “low impact living” ie walking. Yet for nearly five years, all pedestrians have been forced to detour from the safe, direct route between the estates, and instead run (and you do have to literally run) across a busy arterial road at an accident black spot junction. 

Instead of a beautiful bridge through a conservation area, we have a “Footpath closed” sign and an ugly tangle of scaffolding and barriers (see attached).

My son was 9 when he could last use that bridge. Next year he is taking his GCSEs. 

The council’s record on the repair of the footbridge has been lamentable. We local residents have been promised solutions and delivery dates for its restoration time and again. We have seen four different council ministers for Transport make unfulfilled promises for its reopening. We have staged a rally attended by councillors and our local MP Darren Jones. We have seen nearly £100,000 of taxpayers’ money spent on ‘temporary’ scaffolding. We have seen petty squabbles between different departments at the Council over the best solution. And after years of waiting, we have seen the council’s Highways team’s restoration proposal (in early 2019) shot down by Planning officers amidst heritage concerns. 

Now – another year since that proposal was put on ice – we have had no further word. We have been fobbed off again, and again, and again. And unsurprisingly, many locals see this issue as confirmation that our elected officials are either uncaring, incompetent or both.

So my question to you, Marvin, is simple: if your Council cannot repair a 10-metre footbridge in five long years, how can you be trusted to reinvent our entire city for a more sustainable future?

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely

Dan Linstead


After a 5 week wait – with an email to chase up in the middle, in which I acknowledged the challenging situation for the Council (and everyone) caused by the coronavirus lockdown, I received this reply:

From: Mayor <mayor@bristol.gov.uk>
Date: Thursday, 18 June 2020 at 10:17
To: Dan Linstead
Subject: RE: How can you fix a city, if you can’t fix a footbridge?

Dear Dan

Thanks for your email and your patience while I replied. 

I’m grateful you acknowledge the impact on the city of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact on the office and our teams. This is a rapidly changing situation and as an authority we are having moving fast to implement new measures almost on a daily basis. I am not always able to respond to emails as quickly as I’d like.

I share your frustration at the continuing lack of progress with the bridge and your emails have prompted me to follow up with the various teams involved to see where we are. I know there are problems with access to the site with which I asked the teams to come up with creative solutions. I’ve asked my office to follow up. I’ll come back to you. 

Thanks again for your email. 

Kind regards

MR signature for letters

Marvin Rees

Mayor of Bristol

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4 thoughts on “Email exchange with Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol re the Green Iron Bridge”

  1. I regularly walk in Blaise and cross over to Kings Weston. I now have to cross a busy road, where the bend makes it impossible to see oncoming traffic from the bridge approach, and traffic from the Sea Mills side travels fast. It is a busy junction and not suitable for pedestrians to attempt to cross. I have seen a lady trying to cross who was almost in tears as she attempted to find a safe moment to cross with her dogs. It is disgraceful that this bridge is still covered in scaffolding and out of use to the community. Paint a proper crossing on the road if you cannot repair the bridge. This is a very dangerous road to try and cross and shame on the council for leaving local people no choice but to hasten across , in fear of being injured by fast traffic, when there is a footbridge that is waiting to be mended just yards away.

  2. Marvin Rees’s reply was completely inadequate, basically said nothing that hasn’t been said before
    Just using COVID19 as an excuse and must not be allowed. As everyone says, been going on for over five years and is a considerable safety issue
    Useless we get the root cause of this obstructive stance by the council, and its councillors, nothing will change
    Eg I would like to know who owns the scaffolding company? Quite a nice little earner for them I’d say
    Was the contract for scaffolding ever put out to tender? Are we getting best value for money , our council tax l mo obey, in all this?
    Can the council provide financial figures on what it would cost to repair and reinstate this historic bridge ? We need to be able to scrutinise these with our own expertise (sure there are many in the area who could look at this)
    Highly likely Council will say, until planning is approved, can’t give figures. Chasing us round in a circle again.
    Marvin Rees needs to answer at the soonest and not be allowed to obstruct this process any further

  3. I sent this Freedom of Information request to Bristol City Council back in February 2020.
    Dear Bristol City Council,
    Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 please provide me with the following information regarding the damage and restoration of the Iron Bridge crossing Kings Weston Road:

    1. It has now been more than 4 years since the bridge was hit and damaged by a lorry. For all that time the bridge has been supported by scaffolding (supplied by Ashton Scaffolding 0117 9667130) can you please tell me how much the council has paid so far for this and what the ongoing costs are.

    2. The bridge was hit again by a lorry (owned by Reed Bordall – http://www.reedboardall.com) on 1st December 2019 which damaged the scaffolding – which has not been repaired to date. Can you please tell me if the damage has been assessed and when repairs are due to take place. Also has the firm owning the lorry been approached for payment? ( I have photos of the incident ).
    3. Has any money been allocated by the council for the repair of the bridge and when is this likely to happen?
    **********************
    As of today I have heard nothing (except acknowledgement of the request). So today I have sent the following:

    Hi,

    I made this information request (5729302) back on February 26th this year. I was promised a response by March 25th and as yet (7th July 2020) have heard nothing.
    Could you please respond to this request or at the very least tell me what is happening and when to expect a reply.

    Thank you for your assistance.

    Yours sincerely
    Richard Ganniclifft

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