Chair Sue Akhurst’s address to the AGM
* The latest news about the Bridge is that it will not be replaced in 2018. Naturally we are all feeling disappointed and frustrated. The Trust is working with our three Councils, Kent, Swale and Faversham and everyone involved is still whole heartedly committed to the opening bridge.
* The tenders that KCC has received for the swing bridge have come in well over budget, at around £2.5 million. KCC must award the whole project to a single principal contractor, so the tenders include design work, project management, traffic management, legal costs, the abutments, as well as the Bridge itself. Also they are legally required to include an amount to cover the whole-life maintenance of the Bridge – 120 years – plus a percentage for contingency. KCC had prepared a revised estimate earlier this year of £1.2million, but the tenders of £2.5million exceed that estimate in almost every aspect
* KCC will be working on a way forward for the next few months. They will report back to the Bridge Steering Group in late February 2018. The good news is that they are now regarding the project as a basin-wide regeneration project, not only a bridge.
* KCC had said that the existing Bridge is very close to the end of its safe lifespan. However, they have carried out maintenance and repairs, and their inspectors now say that it can last a few years longer, with a continued planned maintenance programme. This buys a little time for them to source the money needed for the Swing Bridge.
* Meanwhile we must hold our nerve and not lose hope. KCC knows how important this opening bridge is to Faversham – that it is not just a Highways Project, but a major Regeneration Project, which will bring great benefit to us all. Swale and Faversham Councils are also strongly committed to an opening Bridge. We must all co-operate together to make sure it happens – soon!
* I hope to have more information by the end of February, and we’ll inform you all as soon as we have more news.