City consults lawyers over refusal to put ramps on new Hinksey Bridge

City council leader Bob Price negotiates the footbridge with his bike

City council leader Bob Price negotiates the footbridge with his bike

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

OXFORD City Council is consulting lawyers in its battle against Network Rail over a footbridge in South Oxford.

The council is mulling legal action over the company’s plans to demolish Hinksey footbridge and replace it with one without ramps.

Bob Price, the leader of the city council, has said Network Rail should put ramps on the bridge, which currently only has steps, because of equal access legislation.

Network Rail was refused planning permission for the new bridge by the city council but this was overturned by a Government inspector last month.

Mr Price said: “Whatever the inspector says, the issue of access has to be considered in the context of the Equality Act.

“In our view it means that you cannot build a facility not accessible to the disabled without there being a suitable alternative route the disabled person could take – and in the case of Hinksey Bridge there is not one.

“We have referred it to our lawyers to get a view and to see how viable a case it is but we would prefer not to pursue it legally.

“We have put on the table that we would be prepared to contribute towards an accessible bridge and we hope that Network Rail sees sense.”

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Mr Price suggested Oxfordshire County Council and Vale of White Horse District Council could also contribute to bring the cost down.

Under the Oxford and Rugby Railways Act 1845, Network Rail does not have to seek planning permission to replace the bridge, but merely needs prior approval.

Network Rail says it only has funding for a like-for-like replacement of the bridge.

The city council has also refused prior approval for a similar bridge off Whitehouse Road because Network Rail’s proposed replacement also doesn’t have ramps.

Vale council leader Matthew Barber said: “We have been very supportive of this but we need to understand what the final costs will be.

“We are very keen to see the project move forward and if we can make a contribution towards it we certainly will.”

However county council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “My understanding is that it is being challenged on Disability Discrimination Act grounds and it is premature to talk about anything else at this stage.”

Network Rail spokeswoman Anne-Marie Batson said: “Equality legislation only applies to new structures, rather than like-for-like replacements such as Hinksey Bridge, and our taxpayer funding is based on that principle.

“We have always been prepared to add extra enhancements to bridges and similar structures where the local authority has been prepared to invest on behalf of its local residents.

“We have made this clear in our dealings with Oxford for many months.

“We now look forward to working with Oxford City Council to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”

Comments (6)

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3:06pm Sat 1 Mar 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

As soon as ramps go up, the local activists will be demanding that signs are put in place instructing cyclists to dismount...
As soon as ramps go up, the local activists will be demanding that signs are put in place instructing cyclists to dismount... Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 2

7:59pm Sat 1 Mar 14

phonoplug says...

Instead of spending money consulting with solicitors, why doesn't the council(s) put that money towards to contributing to the project?? Net result would then be that everyong just gets on with it instead of faffing around arguing and wasting money.
Instead of spending money consulting with solicitors, why doesn't the council(s) put that money towards to contributing to the project?? Net result would then be that everyong just gets on with it instead of faffing around arguing and wasting money. phonoplug
  • Score: 2

10:28am Sun 2 Mar 14

phil-g- says...

phonoplug wrote:
Instead of spending money consulting with solicitors, why doesn't the council(s) put that money towards to contributing to the project?? Net result would then be that everyong just gets on with it instead of faffing around arguing and wasting money.
That's much too practical. The council would much prefer to waste our money on a case it will loose.
[quote][p][bold]phonoplug[/bold] wrote: Instead of spending money consulting with solicitors, why doesn't the council(s) put that money towards to contributing to the project?? Net result would then be that everyong just gets on with it instead of faffing around arguing and wasting money.[/p][/quote]That's much too practical. The council would much prefer to waste our money on a case it will loose. phil-g-
  • Score: 0

3:16pm Sun 2 Mar 14

sarahmw says...

At the council meeting when this issue was discussed, I was there. Network rail refused all practical suggestions made by the council - and the council was left with no option but to refuse it as the proposed bridge contravened equal access legislation.

It was also oposed by residents who would be unable to use the bridge because of the lack of access.
At the council meeting when this issue was discussed, I was there. Network rail refused all practical suggestions made by the council - and the council was left with no option but to refuse it as the proposed bridge contravened equal access legislation. It was also oposed by residents who would be unable to use the bridge because of the lack of access. sarahmw
  • Score: 1

3:19pm Sun 2 Mar 14

phonoplug says...

sarahmw wrote:
At the council meeting when this issue was discussed, I was there. Network rail refused all practical suggestions made by the council - and the council was left with no option but to refuse it as the proposed bridge contravened equal access legislation.

It was also oposed by residents who would be unable to use the bridge because of the lack of access.
"It was also oposed by residents who would be unable to use the bridge because of the lack of access".

Are these same residents able to use the current bridge?
[quote][p][bold]sarahmw[/bold] wrote: At the council meeting when this issue was discussed, I was there. Network rail refused all practical suggestions made by the council - and the council was left with no option but to refuse it as the proposed bridge contravened equal access legislation. It was also oposed by residents who would be unable to use the bridge because of the lack of access.[/p][/quote]"It was also oposed by residents who would be unable to use the bridge because of the lack of access". Are these same residents able to use the current bridge? phonoplug
  • Score: 2

7:00pm Sun 2 Mar 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

sarahmw wrote:
At the council meeting when this issue was discussed, I was there. Network rail refused all practical suggestions made by the council - and the council was left with no option but to refuse it as the proposed bridge contravened equal access legislation.

It was also oposed by residents who would be unable to use the bridge because of the lack of access.
It would be far more accessible if...

The two current bridges were consolidated into one bike, wheelchair, taxi & bus accessible bridge.
[quote][p][bold]sarahmw[/bold] wrote: At the council meeting when this issue was discussed, I was there. Network rail refused all practical suggestions made by the council - and the council was left with no option but to refuse it as the proposed bridge contravened equal access legislation. It was also oposed by residents who would be unable to use the bridge because of the lack of access.[/p][/quote]It would be far more accessible if... The two current bridges were consolidated into one bike, wheelchair, taxi & bus accessible bridge. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

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