A COMMUNITY fighting to save a historic bridge have rejoiced following the announcement to build a new multi-million-pound crossing.

Witton Park Bridge, near Bishop Auckland, was initially planned to shut for 20 weeks to allow Durham County Council to partially rebuild, clean, and paint it.

However, in July 2018, Durham County Council extended the temporary closure after engineers discovered serious structural defects that threatened the safety of the public.

Since then, engineers have been exploring several options for the crossing and have received confirmation that £2.5m is available from the council’s approved budgets for 2020/21 to create a new bridge.

Nick Brown, spokesperson for the Save Witton Park Bridge campaign, said: "Witton Park and the wider community that the bridge serves are absolutely delighted by the news, as shown by the fact that our Facebook page has been accessed over 22,000 times in the 12 hours since the announcement went out. This just shows that when people come together, united in a common cause, we can work wonders.

"I'd like to thank Durham County Council for listening to our arguments and seeing sense, our organising committee for their tireless hard work and most importantly the hundreds of people who came to the public meetings, shared their stories and gave us their backing"

Brian Buckley, the council’s strategic highways manager, said: “The works will see us dismantle the existing bridge and replace it with a new bridge deck, whilst retaining the existing piers and supports. This means the new bridge will follow the existing path across the river.

“It will take time to complete and the bridge will remain closed until the new crossing is finished. However, public safety must come first, and we would like to thank residents for their patience and understanding.”

Councillor Brian Stephens added: "This is an important crossing for residents. I am delighted our engineers have been able to identify a solution."