In 2010 RCT Council astounded many people when it was announced that £190,000 was to be spent to provide three dormice bridges across the long awaited Church Village bypass.
RCT Welsh Lib Dems expressed incredulity that this amount of money was being earmarked for these bridges – whilst being very much in favour of preserving the environment we remarked at the time that such bridges had been provided for a fraction of the cost elsewhere. These were surely super bridges, best quality, built to last. Or maybe not…
A section of the bypass was closed in February this year after strong winds brought down part of one of the bridges. The Council later removed part of another bridge for safety reasons. This left just one bridge for the poor dormice to use to safely cross this dangerous road, and let's not forget these poor creatures had already had a substantial wait for such facilities during the 18 months it took to build the bypass. During that time families were presumably torn apart, longing for the day when a bridge or two were built so they could be reunited with relatives patiently waiting on the other side.
Councillor Mike Powell recently sent a tweet to RCT Council asking what they were doing regarding these bridges, which, after all had cost the taxpayer a fair bit. Would they be replaced? Who would bear the cost? Did they come with a guarantee? Had diversion signs been set up for the poor creatures to direct them to the one remaining bridge? All of these questions and more were on the lips of many.
The response which came back, via email, was quite amazing, stating that
"The Authority has taken legal advice in this matter and having fully considered the complexities surrounding the contractual arrangements associated with this bridge's design and construction, it has determined to engage the services of an independent Structural Engineering Consultant to fully assess the design of the structure, reasons for failure and also to determine possible liability."
Following on from this they could then determine the best way forward. The email also stated that the Council have had talks with Natural Resources Wales "in respect of alternative arrangements for the dormice crossings" and that those potential options were being considered.
Now quite what these could be is anyone's guess. Maybe a trip wire to allow them to glide across from one side to another. Or a crane to hoist them over? Drones to pick them up and drop them on the other side?
Whatever they come up with hopefully it will not prove more of a strain on the already over stretched public purse. AT £190,000 they should have lasted a little bit longer and coped with a bit of a high wind .
Of course what really puts the old tin hat on this, to coin a phrase, is that there were never any dormice there in the first place. Studies carried out before construction started revealed possible dormouse habitat but no actual dormice.
Really, you couldn't make it up.
Non-existent dormice £190,000
Free Swimming in Pontypridd Lido
But we havent any extra cash so lets cut public services its the labour way in RCT