Below is the text of a letter I have recently sent to Network Rail about the disgusting state of both the Steppingstone Bridge and the areas around it. I also included some, but not all, of the photographs shown below.
Whilst taking these photos, members of the public told me that a bottle had been smashed on the bridge steps. I immediately asked the district council street cleaning team if they could find out who was responsible for the cleaning of this area. Not for the first time, the team avoided any temptation to hide behind the ’not my job guv’ excuse we often hear from other agencies and just went out and cleared it up – thank you guys!
The state of the bridge area has undoubtedly become far worse since Network Rail insisted on foisting their second hand cast-off bridge from Aylesbury upon Spalding. The hideously ugly galvanized steel fence, Network Rail then installed to protect a stack of pallets, two overflowing skips and the scrap metal old bridge, has added further to the rundown and hostile feeling that must be experienced by anybody crossing the bridge. Network Rail’s choice of material and style of fencing is completely inappropriate for a rural market town such as ours. Unfortunately, this is typical of the arrogance and disdain Network Rail has displayed throughout the whole Steppingstone Bridge replacement fiasco.
To add insult to injury, during installation of these defences, Network Rail ignored the fact that the solitary lamp post serving the bridge, was responsibility of Lincolnshire County Council Highways Dept and incarcerated it behind their fence. This has prevented any maintenance by LCC and means the light has now not worked for nearly 2 years!
So, as well as the design of the bridge meaning users cannot see who else is on it as they approach it, the top deck of the bridge is a black hole during the hours of darkness. This means that females pedestrians will not risk using it at night and will instead walk, or possibly even drive, the long way around in to the town centre.
The emerging proposals for the redevelopment of Holland Market offer, Network Rail a unique opportunity to become good neighbours to Spalding. In the same way that National Grid are sorting out the site of the old Spalding Gas Works, Network Rail should seek to cooperate with the Holland Market developers, to regenerate the eyesore they have created. I understand the old 5 Shed site, next to the Sainsbury roundabout, is also being considered for inclusion in any plans and this could be continued on to include the Network Rail waste land.
Even if Network show no inclination to be come involved in the project, it is completely unacceptable for them to leave their site in its current state. In its current condition and because of the ongoing neglect of bridge and the area around it, Steppingstone Bridge is both a blight and an embarrassment for Spalding.
I therefore urge all of those who care about Spalding and wish Network to show the town and its residents some respect, to write to the address below, demanding action.
Community Relations Complaints Procedure 9 March 2012
Network Rail HQ
90 York Way
London N1 9AG
Ref: Stepping Stones Bridge, Spalding – Rubbish and graffiti
Please find attached sample photographs of the current state of the above subject bridge and its surrounding areas. All these images were taken on the afternoon of 8 March 2012.
1. I request that you carry out urgent remedial work on the bridge surrounds to clear all the rubbish and on the bridge itself to remove the offensive graffiti. I accept that this is not caused by Network Rail operations, but by the residents of the town. Nonetheless, your company has a responsibility to maintain the area. Also, Network Rail was warned that replacing the original bridge with one of this design would make it a prime target for graffiti.
2. I would also request information on when Network Rail intend cleaning up the waste land surrounding the whole bridge area. This undoubtedly increases the general impression that the area is abandoned and rubbish dumping is therefore acceptable.