The Infrastructure Minister has reaffirmed his department’s decision not to reintroduce a bridge crossing near the Grandstand.
After the previous bridge was removed following the 2019 TT, the Department of Infrastructure had planned to replace it, before changing its mind and ruling out plans for a new one.
In Keys this week, Chris Thomas was asked about a replacement by David Ashford (Douglas North) and told him it simply wasn’t needed.
Mr Thomas said: ‘The department stated that the footbridge would not be replaced in November 2020, after much toing and froing that year.’
Mr Ashford said that much of that toing and froing was the DoI talking to Douglas Council and said that it was a ‘lifeline for those in Douglas North and Douglas East who use it quite regularly, particularly when visiting the cemetery during race periods, which some people still wish to do.’
The former health and treasury minister said that before Mr Thomas brought up the bridge at the top of Bray Hill, this was some distance away for some of the less mobile members of society.
However, Mr Thomas said he didn’t need to reply to the questions as Mr Ashford had provided the answers himself.
Mr Ashford, in a further attempt to get answers from Mr Thomas, asked him if the DoI would work with Douglas Council to reinstate a bridge.
However, Mr Thomas said that in his recollection the council had objected to a new bridge as it wasn’t prepared to modify the cemetery and opposed 24-hour opening, while the cost and the design of the bridge was also causing issues.
Due to the need to make the bridge fully accessible, the potential cost would have been anyway up to £1m for a lift to be installed.
He said: ‘We can’t afford to be political about this, every pound is precious.’
He added that a £1m-plus would be hard to justify to anyone given the bridge at the top of Bray Hill to which Mr Ashford had previously referred.
Organisers of the TT have also previously said that the bridge wasn’t necessary for the smooth running of the event.
Rob Callister (Onchan) said that the previous scheme was a ‘Rolls-Royce scheme’, whereas residents only wanted a bridge that replaced the previous one ‘like for like’.
However, Mr Thomas said that given the scarcity of public funds, it would have to be explored where the money would come from if a scheme was to go ahead.
He added: ‘A Rolls-Royce scheme essentially means a scheme that is compliant with the Equality Act, it needs to be accessible and whether that is Rolls-Royce or not, it’s just a simple fact that a bridge can’t be replaced like for like.’