Residents of Penarth Marina – who live in the private-housing development around the two Marina yacht-basins – are demanding that operation of the pedestrian swing-bridge at Town Quay be resumed .
The swing bridge was swung open, switched off and “parked” in June this year so that a “review ” could be carried out of its operations
The bridge is controlled from the Marina Harbourmaster’s Office – but pedestrians used to be able to press a button to summon the bridge to swing over, for allow them to cross to them cross when necessary The only other pedestrian route across the Marina is via the top of the inner lock gates – otherwise pedestrians have to walk the long way around – almost a mile – via Penarth Portway.
JUNE 2016: The bridge was switched off in June pending what was described as a “review “of its operation. Penarth Quay Marina manager Stuart Jones apologised for the inconvenience but said “the swing bridge is out of action whist a full review of its operation is undertaken” and said that the safety of bridge users was “paramount”.
OCTOBER 2016: Penarth Marina Residents Association has discovered that the swing bridge was out of action not because it needed repair but because of “Health and Safety” issues. They said they had been told that it would cost £120,000 to bring up to current Health and Safety standards.
The current H&S requirements are said to involve “flashing lights” and “audio alarms” which residents said “may cause issues” with those who live nearby because it would be in action 24-hours-a-day . Such systems were installed when the bridge was built – but apparently were disconnected after people complained about them.
NOVEMBER 2016: The latest development in the saga is that local resident John Constable of the Penarth Portway management company has now written to Emma Reed “head of visible services and transport” at the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
Setting out the background, Mr Constable has told the Vale Council “There is nothing mechanically wrong with the bridge; its operation as a pedestrian access has ceased as a result of a decision taken by Penarth Quays Marina who have concerns over health and safety issues following a recent incident.” [ PDN Note: This is the first time anyone has publicly mentioned an “incident” involving the bridge”]
Mr Constable has told the Vale Council; that “Penarth Quays Marina commissioned a Machinery Risk Assessment report which recommended a number of modifications to the bridge structure which would cost in excess of £100,000 to implement. Penarth Quays Marina would prefer not to make this investment and would like to decommission the bridge.” [ PDN Note: This is the first time anyone has mentioned decommissioning the bridge] .
The letter notes that “the entire marina estate, including the bridge, is actually owned by Vale of Glamorgan Council and is simply leased by Penarth Quays Marina. However “The precise terms of the lease are commercially sensitive and therefore not in the public domain, but over the years Penarth Quays Marina and its predecessor companies have maintained the bridge – most recently spending some £5,000 earlier this year replacing some of the roller bearings. “
Mr Constable says “when the original lease was signed, it is understood a substantial sum of money was given to the lessee to cover the cost of maintenance and operation of the bridge. It is accepted that mechanical devices do not last forever, but if Penarth Quays Marina have failed to make adequate financial provision for the bridge’s long-term future, they should bear the consequences of that decision – not Marina residents and visitors.”
It’s acknowledged that there’s “no formal right of way exists on the bridge” but residents say they now face the prospect of the bridge never being re-commissioned and the loss of a facility which they’ve used for 30 years . Mr Constable says “ It is not in the gift of Penarth Quays Marina to arbitrarily withdraw this facility.”
Today Stuart Jones, the Manager of Penarth Quays Marina, has said “The reason that we are seeking the Council’s views on the bridge operation is that the latest safety review of the operation of the bridge has highlighted the need for audible warnings and flashing lights as per the other remotely operated bridges nearby, e.g. Pont-y-Werin and the Barrage.”
Mr Jones says the company doesn’t think these visual and audible signals are appropriate in a residential setting and beleives they would be “a significant disruption to local residents and our berth holders. They will obviously need to be noisy and visible at all times. Residents near the bridge don’t want this but the residents further away may not be as badly affected by the noise and light and therefore a small number are requesting the bridge be returned to operation.”