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HomeNewsRodley resident demands action over 'bridge from hell'

Rodley resident demands action over ‘bridge from hell’

By John Baron

A Rodley resident has called for action over a swing bridge which is ‘not fit for purpose’ and is leading to wider traffic issues in the village.

Jeffrey Houseman addressed councillors on the Outer West Community Committee on Wednesday and spoke of his concerns over the Moss Road swing bridge, which was installed in 2022 and leads over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the former Airedale Mills site.

Last year the land received full planning permission to build 67 homes, despite local objections.

Mr Houseman, who has lived in Rodley for over 60 years, uses the bridge daily and labelled it ‘inadequate’ as it was taking an average of 20 minutes for barges to pass through, sometimes over an hour.

He said that once the bridge is open there is no access to Rodley Cricket Club, Rodley Nature Reserve, the canal tow path and a rugby field – and raised concerns over what the situation would be if more than 60 homes were built and occupied on the site.

He said a lot of disabled people and people with heart conditions use the bridge. He also raised concerns over health concerns if someone was hit by a ball at the cricket club.

“The bridge isn’t fit for purpose and everybody in Rodley knows it,’ said Mr Houseman. “Everybody calls it the ‘bridge from hell’.”

He said the issue is creating traffic issues in the area.

Councillor Peter Carlill (Lab, Calverley & Farsley) said he understood Mr Houseman’s concerns.

Cllr Carlill said: “You have highlighted come of the real difficulties. The bridge has been approved through planning but what it states within the planning … it must be able to open and close for boats within seven or eight minutes … but sometimes it has been 20 minutes or much longer. Sometimes because it’s very complex to do the workings of the bridge, sometimes because it has had faults and it’s been left because it couldn’t close and return to giving access across for many hours.

“It’s a really big problem. The breakdowns are the issue, sometimes with no access for several days.”

Cllr Carlill explained that when the development was approved the ‘opening within seven minutes ruling’ was a planning condition imposed by the council only when first resident moved in to the development – and that he understood the site currently had no developer as the original developer had pulled out last year.

“The real problem at the moment is who is going to look after that bridge until the development is built?” he added.

“If that development never comes forward we will be left with a faulty bridge. That’s where I see the key issue is.”

Councillor Trish Smith (Ind, Pudsey) said she voted against the application when it came to plans panel last year. “I don’t believe it’s a very good option for people to be marooned on an island with an unsatisfactory bridge,” she said. “The concerns of yourself and the people of Rodley are very valid. But we are very limited as we don’t currently have a developer.”

Councillors agreed to raise the issues with Leeds City Council’s planning department, and nearby landowners Canal and Rivers Trust and Yorkshire Water.

Mr Houseman questioned whether planning permission should still go forward for the site.

The Outer West Community Committee is made up on nine councillors from Calverley & Farsley, Farnley & Wortley and Pudsey wards. The committee has five Labour councillors, three Conservatives and one Independent.

An amendment to last June’s planning permission was approved by the council in January, which allows any prospective developer the option of having 100% affordable housing on the site, instead of the original 15%. Follow WLD’s ongoing coverage of the site here.

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  1. Mr John Falk you are totally wrong with your post .And the facts are not correct .The timing was originally 4 mins I believe when the original outline planning was passed .The timings now is 446 seconds for the bridge to be opened ,a barge to pass through and the bridge to be closed .This is based on LCC highways prediction of one car turning onto Moss Bridge Road at peak times at the rate of One every 100 seconds . They estimate there could be enough room for 4.6 cars ??? This means any more would impact on standing traffic on the main road .So 4.6x 100 is the ideal time and this is what they have worked out as being acceptable.They are not interested in what the realistic timings are .The planning department are aware and have been for quite sometime .As Councillor Smith and others have pointed out on a number of occasions.But no one is allowed to question them and they are getting away with it . But there are other things relative to this development that do not meet standards laid down but again not allowed to ask .Highways and planning say that this development will not impact on traffic ,parking for Rodley or the Nature Reserve or Cricket Club as they have adequate parking.This is not true it already has .All this can be seen ,not me just moaning but factual.

    • I think this may be the owner commenting. I am a boater and got the chance to try out the new bridge about a week after it was installed and the workers were still here finishing some ground work off and 3 grown men had to help me and my partner open the bridge (we are in our early 20s and pretty healthy) and it still took over 15 mins to open with 5 young people doing it, imagine being elderly which a lot of boaters are as it is their retirement dream. Doesn’t help that if you’re a single handed boater that you are on the wrong side of the road once bridge is open to even get back on your boat. I heard whispers from the workmen that the bridge and its weight should qualify to be an electric bridge (see apperley bridge electric road bridge as an example) but that was going to cost the contacted an extra 30,000 so he cut corners and made it manual so here we are in this mess! Now we have a bridge that needs a minimum of 60 turns on on wheel to open? The land the homes were meant to be built on also floods every year too so not sure how that would have worked? Overall it’s a bigger issue of greedy contractors and corrupt councils trying to make a quick buck without thought put to the local residents. Our chandlery just a couple hours from rodley hardly sees any business now simply down to the difficulty of the bridge and boaters not wanting to pass through it . Next time maybe don’t cut corners and things will be ok.

  2. I’ve operated this bridge several times. The first time there was a fault and it took many hours to fix and a long time following several phone calls for anybody to come out to the bridge. It normally takes me 12 to 15 minutes to open and close the bridge. I have operated most of the swing bridges on the CRT network, one took 8 men to open but that has now been replaced, this is by far the worst design of swing bridge on the network. Most people that have never seen this bridge before or are not as fit will take much longer. It is even more difficult for single handed boaters. Recommending that you watch a video of how to operate it is an acknowledgement of how bad it is. During the boating season the bridge is operated several times a day, often by hire boats. The good thing is boats have priority over opening the bridge, everybody else has to wait for a boat to pass.

  3. I am a volunteer for Rodley nature reserve. One of my commitments is to open the reserve for some evening sessions for uniformed groups such as Brownies, Cubs, Beavers etc. These occur mainly from April to July. We have had several incidents involving the bridge. I have twice been unable to get parents and their cars and kids off the “island” for over 20 minutes due to holdups with the bridge. On more than one occasion we have been unable to access the reserve until after a long wait due to bridge difficulties. The worst occasion involved a “more mature” boater who was trying to operate the bridge single handed having left his wife in charge of the boat. He had tried to do it (incorrectly) and needed a lot of help from other people to sort it out. A well built young man operated the mechanism for him eventually but found it really hard work on a hot day. By this time I estimate that we had about 35 cars at least belonging to leaders, myself and parents queued back into the road. We were there for about 25 minutes before we could cross the bridge. Ridiculous!


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