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Highland Council makes pledge that moves to repair and re-open the Infirmary Bridge across the River Ness in Inverness will be completed as rapidly as possible after complaints over summer season closure

By Alasdair Fraser

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Infirmary Bridge. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Infirmary Bridge. Picture: Gary Anthony.

Highland Council is promising the public that repairs to an iconic footbridge across the River Ness will be completed as soon as possible.

Last month members of members of the council's economy and infrastructure committee agreed a budget of up to £550,000 to restore Infirmary Bridge.

The move came after concerns were voiced that the structure near Eden Court Theatre could be closed permanently following decades of alleged under investment.

Despite the pledge, the timing of closure of the footbridge on health and safety grounds has stoked heavy criticism from one Highland campaign group.

OpenNess, which is based in the Highland capital, claimed the council could have diverted funding to the bridge earlier, rather than investing in the controversial Gathering Place artwork nearby along the River Ness, to avoid closure at the height of the summer months.

In a statement today, Highland Council sought to reassure visitors, residents and communities on both sides of the River Ness that it was committed to making repairs to the Infirmary Bridge's decking as soon as possible.

A spokesman for the local authority said it understood the frustration felt over the inconvenience of the bridge's closure, especially during the summer season, but gave an assurance that closure was "entirely for the public’s health and safety".

Since damaged decking was identified on the bridge, the council has been trying to source replacement decking materials from their original supplier which is currently out of stock.

Infirmary Bridge across the River Ness. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Infirmary Bridge across the River Ness. Picture: Gary Anthony.

Previously, bespoke deck panels were manufactured specifically for the bridge, but the spokesman said these could not now be provided as the raw materials were not in stock.

He added: "Alternative options are being investigated by the council to use different materials to provide a temporary overlay across the existing decking panels and covering this with an anti-slip coating.

"These materials, however, are similarly not available due to the widely reported national shortage on products related to construction timber and DIY brought about by the increased demand in DIY due to lockdown.

"The Council apologises for the inconvenience of the Infirmary Bridge closure and gives assurance that it is actively seeking materials for the bridge repairs.

"As a result of the impact of Covid-19 and the high demand nationally on DIY-related products for timber decking, these delays are meanwhile, however, outwith the Council’s control.

"The Council will update the public as soon as progress can be made on the repairs via its website and social media."

Related story: Closure of iconic Infirmary Bridge over the River Ness in Inverness is criticised by campaign group OpenNess

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