A TWO-and-a-half year wrangle about the future of a flood damaged bridge has finally been resolved.

Creet's Bridge, which crosses Kex Beck at Kirkby Malzeard, near Ripon, is to be rebuilt and widened by about two metres.

It is the option that local people as well as the parish, borough and county councils have always favoured.

But because the 18th Century structure was Grade II-listed, English Heritage objected and the issue was called in by the regional Government Office.

However, Planning Minister Tony McNulty has now upheld the county council's decision to widen Creet's Bridge, which will involve it being dismantled and then reassembled.

The county council's executive member for environmental services, Peter Sowray, said yesterday: "We've always maintained that rebuilding and widening the bridge is the best option to make it safer and easier for traffic.

"We're pleased that the decision supports the majority view of the residents."

The county council has always said that rebuilding a wider bridge would cost about £440,000 while repairing it to its original state would add £32,000 to the bill.

The temporary diversion that has had to be set up has already cost about £100,000.

A programme of works to complete the scheme and remove that diversion will be announced within the next two weeks.