The meeting, which the local MP arranged, was attended by Andy Brown of Cumbria Highways, local county councillor Duncan Fairbairn, and parish councillors including Alan Rule and Michael Stockdale. The damage to the bridge was inspected, and technical aspects explained to the community. Andy Brown, Senior Director of Strategic Asset Management in the Highways department, confirmed that some design options would be put toward the community imminently, and that work should begin as soon as practicable. It was stressed that any new structure be designed to accommodate the flow of river water, and that a resilient long-term choice be made.

Rory Stewart said: “It is hugely important to get feedback from the parish on this decision, since it is their bridge, and they and their ancestors have been using this bridge and farming along these riverbanks for centuries. At the same time, we must acknowledge that any structure must be resilient to withstand any future flooding events. I would like to thank Highways for their work – they have worked immensely hard since December last year, surveying a huge number of infrastructure repairs, and I also want to pay tribute to the communities around Sebergham, who have been patient and understanding. Councillor Duncan Fairbairn has also done a fantastic job, tirelessly lobbying for a solution.”

Rory also inspected the eroded road further along from Bell Bridge at Sebergham, and congratulated the Highways workforce on the work they are doing to strengthen the tarmac to make is safer for local drivers.

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