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National Trust Refuses to Answer Questions on Tumbling Bay Weir Repair

Published on: 5 Aug, 2022
Updated on: 6 Aug, 2022

The weir bridge moments after its collapse in November 2019.

By Martin Giles

The National Trust has refused to answer questions about the long-delayed repair of the Tumbling Bay Weir in Millmead, behind the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

The weir collapsed dramatically, while a woman was crossing it with her dog, in November 2019. A temporary repair in 2020 allowed water levels in the navigation to be restored but the footbridge that passed over the weir and formed part of the towpath was not reinstated.

See also: If the Army Can Put A Bridge Over a River in a Day Could We Have a Bridge Over Tumbling Bay by Christmas?

The Wey navigation and towpath are owned by the National Trust but the Tumbling Bay weir controlled water levels allowing, in times past, the right amount of headwater to drive the town mill, now owned by Guildford Borough Council.

The Dragon asked the National Trust the following questions:

  1. Does the National Trust agree that it owns Tumbling Bay Weir and [did own] the towpath bridge that passed over it?
  2. If not who does?
  3. If so, why should any other agency contribute to the repairs?
  4. It is mentioned in your last response that there is some uncertainty about the strength of the banks on either side of the weir. Can you be more specific please?
  5. Is this is an obstacle to progress? If so, why hasn’t an investigation been conducted?
  6. Are there any factors other than bank stability and funding preventing progress?
  7. We have been told that the life of the temporary repair might be longer than the five years initially expected. Is that true?
  8. If so, does that make the bridge repair less urgent, in your view?
  9. Is it fully appreciated by NT how important a contiguous towpath is to local residents as a route to avoid the roads and as an amenity?
  10. Why couldn’t a temporary bridge be constructed to reinstate the route and alleviate the pressure on all involved agencies?

In June and July, it took five weeks for the different agencies involved: the National Trust, GBC, SCC, Environment Agency, and Thames Water, to agree a statement on the situation, and it still appears that financial responsibilities have to be accepted, so there is still no plan for work to commence, let alone a completion date.

See also: Agencies Can’t Agree A Statement on Weir Bridge Repair

Several stakeholders and members of the public have suggested the erection of a temporary bridge to reinstate the towpath route, some saying that this would alleviate pressure on all the involved agencies to find a permanent solution. It is only in the most recent statement from the National Trust the question of “structural integrity of the banks has been mentioned.”

See also: Council Reacts: ‘We Are Working Together to Ensure the Future of the Tumbling Bay Weir’

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