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Itchen Navigation Canal bridge undergoes repairs after vandalism
2:13pm Sunday 29th December 2013 in News
A HEAVILY used bridge at a Hampshire beauty spot has been repaired after it was sabotaged by arsonists.
The ancient crossing over Itchen Navigation Canal at Withymead Lock near Bishopstoke has been used for 150 years by ramblers and dog walkers.
But six months it collapsed into the water after being set alight by arsonists.
Now a generous farmer has stepped in to replace the heavily used bridge.
The original wooden structure was destroyed in June after repeated attacks by vandals, meaning walkers faced a half mile detour to Ham Farm bridge to the north, or a mile to Bishopstoke in the other direction.
But Henry Russell, who owns nearby High Bridge Farm, built a new vandal proof steel structure before donating it to the authority who then fitted it.
Mr Russell said: “It’s such a well used and important footway that I felt the delay was embarrassing.
“It’s a provision we use on the farm and I was able to assemble a bridge to save public expense.”
Nearby Ham Farm bar and restaurant saw its takings dented this summer when the bridge was out. Manager Ross Ferguson said: “We are normally quite popular with people walking down from Winchester to Bishopstoke and with the bridge gone it really caused a blockade. This will make a big difference.”
Cllr Moore said: “We always promote healthy living yet having a footbridge out for so long caused a lot of people problems. It’s fantastic he could help.”
County council executive member for culture, recreation and countryside Cllr Keith Chapman claimed the authority would have eventually replaced it, but said: “We took advantage of a generous offer from a local land owner to help replace it quickly.
“In light of financial pressures it is important we remain open-minded to the prospect of getting jobs done in innovative ways.”
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