Politicians turn up heat in bid to save landmark Burry Port bridge
POLITICAL opposition is growing to moves to take down a landmark footbridge in Burry Port — described as "akin to removing Big Ben from London".
Both Plaid Cymru and Labour representatives have slammed Network Rail over its plans for the structure, which has stood between platforms at the train station since 1893.
The company intends removing the bridge by the end of the year to "reduce the risk and costs to the railway", claiming it is lightly used.
But Labour county councillor John James said: "The bridge has played an important part in Burry Port's pedestrian way of life for over 100 years, linking the harbour with the town centre shops.
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"Its removal would be a devastating blow to Burry Port businesses either side of the bridge."
He also has safety concerns over the move, fearing it could encourage people to cross the railway line as it had done when the bridge was closed for restoration in the past.
Mr James added: "The bridge is part of the heritage of Burry Port and has cultural and historical value, being Victorian and demonstrating the unique designs attributed to that era.
"It is one of the landmarks of Burry Port and, to Burry Portians, removing the bridge from Burry Port would be akin to removing Big Ben from London.
"We will endeavour to do what we can to keep this bridge where it belongs, in Burry Port."
He and fellow Labour councillor Pat Jones have pledged to raise the matter with Network Rail.
And Llanelli MP Nia Griffith has now added her weight too, declaring the bridge to be of historic interest and that people were "horrified" at the suggestion it could be taken down.
"Furthermore, anything that discourages people from crossing over from the car parking area to the town's shops would damage local traders," added the MP.
Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru has urged residents to make their views known loudly.
A party statement said: "The existence of the railway bridge is so obviously vital in enabling people to cross the railway.
"Its potential loss will be devastating and inconvenient for the whole community. Network Rail has a moral duty to maintain the bridge as it forms a key part of our town's heritage."
It added that the bridge was of classic Victorian design and should therefore be "protected and preserved as one of the finest examples of the Great Western Railway's history".
Plaid said it believed the removal of the bridge was part of a national cost-cutting exercise.
Network Rail declined to comment to the Star.