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Haverfordwest ‘Instagram friendly’ bridge could be built by March

The ‘Instagram-friendly’ Haverfordwest ‘signature bridge’ plans (Pic: Atkins Ltd Inset: The current footbridge Pic: Google Street View)

WORK on a new ‘levelling-up’-supported footbridge in the centre of Pembrokeshire’s county town is expected to start in little over a month and be finished by next March.

The contract for the new bridge, part of the second phase of the Western Quayside regeneration of Haverfordwest, was recently awarded to contractors Walters Group UK Ltd.

The signature bridge scheme, in the Haverfordwest’s conservation area, also includes a ‘plaza’ public realm reconfiguration and enhancement; and repair, renewal and refurbishment of the former Cleddau Foundry building.

It forms part of the wider ‘Heart of Pembrokeshire’ regeneration project in the town, which was previously awarded a Levelling Up Fund grant.

The bridge itself, and its design, labelled an ‘Instagrammable’ bridge by Councillor Rhys Jordan, has proved contentious with some, and was subject to a ‘call-in’ after the contract was awarded at the March meeting of the county council’s Cabinet.

Work on the ‘levelling-up’-supported ‘signature bridge’ and associated enhancements is due to start in June (Pic: Pembrokeshire County Council social media)

Councillors have previously heard the cost of the ‘signature’ bridge project amounts to £5.7m out of an overall Heart of Pembrokeshire budget of £25.4m; of that money, external funding of £17.7m (70 per cent) has been secured for the overall project and £5.1m (90 per cent) secured for the bridge project.

This leaves council costs at £7.7m for the overall project, and some £600,000 for the bridge and associated works, councillors have heard, with costs to date for the two projects amounting to £3.9m for the Heart of Pembrokeshire project, and £1.1m for the bridge only.

Fears have been expressed that simply building a like-for-like replacement of the “fair to poor condition” existing footbridge – at a circa £931,000 cost – rather than what has been agreed could put levelling-up funding in jeopardy, leaving the council to foot the total bill.

At the early March meeting, Council Leader David Simpson said: “If we cancelled the actual bridge now we would lose the 90 per cent funding; it would cost us more than for a really nice bridge in the centre of town, and to me is an asset to the community.”

A ‘Call-in’ by Conservative group leader Di Clements was heard in April, seeking “further clarification around the quotes and cost estimations to maintain the bridge to ensure that statements that have been made by cabinet members in the public realm are accurate”.

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At that April 4 extraordinary Cabinet meeting, Deputy Leader Cllr Paul Miler moved the bridge proceed, as moved at the March Cabinet meeting, adding that Cllr Simpson stood by the comments he made about the bridge project.

Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services Cllr Rhys Sinnett said the project was “an integral part of the vision of the future of Haverfordwest,” backed by 90 per cent funding from the UK government.

“There is a real belief this will be a catalyst to help the regeneration of Haverfordwest; it also is good value for the Pembrokeshire taxpayers,” he added.