Fringe Box



‘We Don’t Know’ When Weir Repair Will Be Completed Admits Lead Councillor

Published on: 27 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 27 Jan, 2022

The well-used towpath that crosses Tumbling Bay Weir has been closed since its dramatic collapse in November 2019

By Martin Giles

There has been no further progress on reinstating the footbridge of the Tumbling Bay Weir in the last two months and it is not known when any restoration will be completed, the lead councillor responsible has confirmed, although he hopes it will be “soon”.

The weir bridge moments after its collapse.

Guildford Borough Council were asked to comment following a comment made by Dragon reader Barry Williams. He wrote: “So we are two months on from the news report: Two Years On From Collapse, Still No Significant Progress On Weir Replacement.

“What is the situation, status quo? Does GBC have anything positive to report? Could The Dragon invite the council to give an update?”

The Dragon passed his comment on to GBC asking them to address the following questions:

  1. Has there been any progress on agreeing the division of responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, between the involved parties?
  2. What is the latest estimate for the date that restoration of the towpath over the Tumbling Bay Weir will be achieved?
  3. If there has been no progress why not?

Cllr John Rigg

This afternoon we received the following response from the lead councillor for Regeneration, Cllr John Rigg, who said: “We understand how much our residents and visitors enjoy using the Weir Bridge and towpath at Millmead. However, the towpath is not a public right of way and it has been closed for safety until a permanent solution is put in place. We all hope this is soon, but we don’t know when that will be.

“Rest assured that although we don’t own the bridge or the weir, we are very keen to reach a long-term solution so the path and bridge can open again.

“We continue to work with the National Trust. Other agencies including the Environment Agency, Thames Water and Surrey County Council, will be brought on board very soon so we can all agree a plan on the work required and the how it might be funded.”

First published in November 2021

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Responses to ‘We Don’t Know’ When Weir Repair Will Be Completed Admits Lead Councillor

  1. Howard Fisher Reply

    January 27, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    So, Cllr John Rigg failed to answer any of the actual questions put to him. Maybe he should be asked the same questions at monthly intervals until he respects the residents of Guildford enough to answer them?

    It does not take two years for the interested parties to establish which one is actually responsible and to put in place a plan to fix it. Or at the very least to have some actual reasons why nothing has happened since the collapse.

  2. Keith Francis Reply

    January 27, 2022 at 7:36 pm

    Whose land is it on?

    In a situation near me, the National Trust argued that replacing a small collapsing road bridge across its common land was not its responsibility until a local resident (the author of local history books and sadly no longer with us) proved, from plans for the road, that it was. The National Trust had no option but to give in.

    Editor’s note: It does not appear to be disputed that the navigation and towpath are owned by the National Trust but responsibility for the weir and its maintenance appears still to be disputed.

  3. John Lomas Reply

    January 27, 2022 at 9:58 pm

    Cllr Rigg says it is not a public right of way but in Wikipedia it states: “The towpath is a free access national trail, a local authority-supported, car-free, main north-south route. Linking with the Basingstoke Canal towpath at Byfleet, it has links with many public footpaths and with two National Trails. These are the Thames Path at Weybridge and the North Downs Way at St Catherine’s, Guildford. This section of the towpath has been made part of European long-distance path E2. This runs from Galway in Ireland to Nice on the Mediterranean coast of France.”

    Editor’s note: Towpaths are not normally rights of way so that owners can close them for maintenance.

  4. John Redpath Reply

    January 28, 2022 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks for this useful article. Please could you ask the same questions of the National Trust press office as that would be a more appropriate place in this instance surely?

    So far I haven’t seen any statements in The Dragon from National Trust, could I ask why you have not also made these available to your readership.

    Editor’s response: In the previous article (Two Years On From Collapse, Still No Significant Progress On Weir Replacement), referred to and linked to this, Tristan Brown, National Trust general manager for the River Wey Navigations said: “We can confirm that the weir has been repaired and river levels are restored, so the waterway is once again navigable. The bridge is part of the next phase of works and as soon as we have an update we will share this. We appreciate it is an inconvenience for walkers and cyclists. Together with Guildford Borough Council we are finding a way forward.”

    We will check back with the National Trust in a few months when, hopefully, there will be some progress to report.

  5. David Ogilvie Reply

    January 28, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    The collapsed weir and footbridge at Millmead forms part of the towpath of the River Wey navigation. It is owned by the National Trust.

    However, the weir also allows the millstream to power the Guildford hydroelectric project. In my view in the interests of opening up the riverside GBC should be willing to fund at least half the cost of the bridge and weir reinstatement. This would be a better investment than the £3 to £5 million spent on the Walnut Tree Road footbridge that completely blocks the view across the river from the towpath and replaces a perfectly functional pre-existing bridge.

  6. M Smith Reply

    January 28, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    Perhaps if the National Trust put more effort into maintaining its properties and less time on wokery and decolonisation we might see faster progress on the repairs.

    • Stuart Barnes Reply

      January 30, 2022 at 9:19 am

      Hear, hear.

  7. Paul Spooner Reply

    January 29, 2022 at 10:14 am

    This is now a pathetic and embarrassing situation for the so-called Residents for Guildford [and Villages] party running the council. Imagine what John Rigg and John Redpath would be saying if this long-term issue occurred in the previous administration and they were just “activist residents” who regularly complained to the council.

    Now both are lead members responsible for resolution and instead we have a stalemate and no demonstrable progress except pass the buck. Shameful.

    The current leadership needs to show that they really care about Guildford and reach a resolution with the other parties involved, or stand aside and let others do it, and I don’t mean just handing the problem to their [Liberal Democrat] coalition partners as they take up leadership again, under their partnership agreement, in a few months.

    Paul Spooner is the leader of the Conservative group at GBC

  8. Nigel Porter Reply

    February 3, 2022 at 5:40 pm

    Maybe they could invest some of the money gained from increased parking charges, closing public toilets and reducing funding to a great theatre into a project like this?

    GBC’s lead councillor for Finance, Cllr Tim Anderson said: “We are not going to spend hard-won savings on a weir we don’t own although we have previously explained we are very keen for a collaborative solution and are working hard with partner agencies to find this. More generally the savings and money from increased parking charges have helped us balance the budget for the current year and will help us address the medium-term deficit, they are not available for splashing on other projects.”

  9. R Broster Reply

    March 12, 2022 at 3:49 pm

    Could attention be brought to the NT and GBC, and other involved agency, that they are restricting access to the river for anyone who cannot walk or use steps. This is discriminatory and directly against the Equality Act 2010.

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