Surgery latest to claim Finchingfield bridge closure will put lives at risk

Bridge campaigners Peter and Mary Curry and Jane Welsh with Braintree MP James Cleverly. Picture: Hy

Bridge campaigners Peter and Mary Curry and Jane Welsh with Braintree MP James Cleverly. Picture: Hywel Barrett - Credit: Archant

The cost of closing Finchingfield Bridge could be counted in bodies, says the village’s GP surgery.

Linda Cutts, practice manager at Freshwell Health Centre, has written to NHS England saying a proposed 15-mile diversion while the bridge is closed for repair for several months “could result in patient deaths”.

Villagers are calling for a temporary bridge while Essex County Council carries out works.

Mrs Cutts wrote: “We would not be able to reach our patients in the event of an emergency and other emergency services would inevitably fail to respond within designated times.

“Freshwell Health Centre serves patients within a radius of 10 miles. We have almost 7,000 patients registered here.

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“A long-term closure would cut our area in half. There are rumours the bridge could be shut for several months. This would make it extremely difficult for many to access services.

“It would cause severe disruption to our GP visits and interrupt the work of the community team, carers and first responders.

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“A temporary bridge would be the only viable option.”

The letter follows concerns raised publicly by Darren Hockley, officer in charge of nearby Wethersfield Fire Station, who also said lives will be at risk.

Eddie Johnson, county councillor for highways maintenance, said: “We are in the process of discussions in relation to essential maintenance work.

“We have made a decision in principle but this marks just the beginning of a dialogue with stakeholders which will continue until work is scheduled to begin in July 2016.

“No work will take place until we have considered all the issues and ideas, and are confident the appropriate contingencies are in place.”

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