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Barton Bridge, Eccles

Volume 529: debated on Wednesday 7 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will engage a reputable firm of engineers to report upon Barton Bridge, Eccles, with special reference to the construction of a footpath outside the present structure of the bridge, on the side of the bridge or seven feet above the present footpaths.

No, Sir. As has been explained to the hon. Member, this is a private bridge and my right hon. Friend has no power to intervene in its operation or to make a Road Fund grant for it.

Does the Minister realise that in giving such a low priority to the Barton Bridge—the new bridge and the improvement of the old—he and his advisers have made a big mistake? Does he realise that the statement made to the National Production Advisory Council and now passed on to the T.U.C.—which states that:

"The Minister acknowledges the importance of this project but owing to the fact that there are many more schemes which are more urgently needed, there is little prospect of the Barton Bridge scheme, which would cost £2 million, being considered for a considerable number of years."
—will cause great resentment over a wide area in Lancashire? Are we to conclude that in the Ministry of Transport the interests of working men and industry take second place to the interests of pleasure motoring?

No, Sir. As was made quite plain in my right hon. Friend's statement on 8th December last year, very high priority is given to industrial areas and Lancashire has received its fair allocation out of the present programme.


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the responsibilities of his Department regarding the safety arrangements at Barton Swing Bridge, Eccles; and what are the responsibilities falling on the Manchester Ship Canal Company regarding the safety of pedestrians crossing the bridge.

My Department has no direct responsibility for safety arrangements at Barton Swing Bridge. Although there is no specific provision on the matter in the Manchester Ship Canal Act, 1885, I am advised that the Manchester Ship Canal Company might be held to have a measure of responsibility for the safety of pedestrians crossing the bridge, in so far as the Act requires the company to maintain the bridge and in so far as the company are at common law under a duty to exercise care in the opening of the bridge so as not to endanger pedestrians using it.

Will the hon. Gentleman undertake to look into this whole matter and have an inquiry with representatives of the T.U.C. and industry on the whole project of Barton Bridge and the transport arrangements there, which are causing grave dislocation to workers, industrialists and the general community?

The hon. Member has brought this matter specially to the attention of the Department. He persuaded my right hon. Friend to visit the bridge himself, and he can be assured that we have the greatest sympathy with the representations that he is making and that we will include Barton Bridge in the programme as soon as it is possible to do so.