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Two bridges to be replaced in Cannock Chase

Two bridges in Cannock Chase nature havens are set to be replaced – more than three years after plans were originally agreed.

Cannock Chase Councillor Andrea Muckley

Cannock Chase Council’s cabinet gave the green light at its latest meeting for the work at Anglesey Nature Reserve and Rawnsley Wood to go ahead.

The decision on Thursday follows a resolution by the authority’s previous administration earlier this year to defer the project, which had previously had funding earmarked towards it in 2021. There were concerns raised that replacing the two bridges and a boardwalk in Rugeley town centre would cost more than the £110,000 budgeted for the work.

The council’s new administration has decided to consider proposals for the boardwalk separately, as part of its wider capital budget-setting process. Councillor Andrea Muckley, the authority’s environment and climate change portfolio leader, moved to assure Rugeley residents that the boardwalk “is on our minds” on Thursday however.

She said: “This administration has thought long and hard about whether all three projects should continue to be linked. We are of the opinion that the projects are very different in terms of their complexity and cost and therefore it is proper that the rebuilding of Rugeley boardwalk is considered separately.”

A suggestion was made earlier this year that the three projects could be “decoupled”, to enable work on at least one of the areas to be carried out using the existing budget. The decision to delay the work was made during a private cabinet session and later called in for discussion by Councillor Muckley, who highlighted the “poor accessibility” to the three sites as a result of facilities not being replaced.

The Rugeley boardwalk between Brook Square and Albion Street was closed on safety grounds in October 2018. There were previously two bridges in Rawnsley Woods, which helped to connect the two villages of Rawnsley and Hazelslade, but the last one was removed in 2020 due to safety concerns.

Councillor Muckley said on Thursday: “This proposal has been three years in the making; three years of fighting for a new bridge in both locations by Green councillors in Rawnsley and Hednesford. I am beyond happy that I am able to present this proposal and ask cabinet to get this project started.

“As I am sure everyone is aware, one of these bridges is in my ward and was a bridge that I used on a regular basis to get my young daughter safely from our home to the park on St Thomas Drive or to Hazel Slade Nature Reserve. Rawnsley Woods runs along the old mineral line for Cannock Wood Colliery – where once was a train track there now exists a haven for wildlife and people alike.

“The loss of the bridge has bisected our community and has meant that those with young children or reduced mobility have had to walk a longer route, along a narrow path, made narrower by encroaching vegetation and along a road where we regularly see motorists failing to slow down from 60mph to 30mph limit as they enter our community. It is dangerous.

“As a mum, my daughter and I have to walk single-file in places and it is unsafe. By rebuilding a bridge on the site, families will be able to safely traverse the villages to get to school, the GP, one of our lovely parks or Hazel Slade Nature Reserve.

“The people of Rawnsley Ward and Hednesford have waited patiently for their bridges to be re-built; the councillors who represent them have done everything in their power for over three years to get new bridges. It is right and fair that these bridges are built and the communities they serve are recognised for their patience and resilience.”

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