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"Thousands of bridges" vulnerable to flooding

Thousands of bridges around the country would be vulnerable to the type of floods which devastated Cumbria last autumn, MPs were told today.

The warning came from the UK Roads Liaison Group in a written memorandum to the House of Commons Transport Committee.

Giving evidence to the committee today, the group’s UK roads board chairman Matthew Lugg said bridge-strength assessment would now have to take account of the “increasing number of severe weather events” happening in the UK.

In its written submission, the group said: “There are thousands of bridges around the country that would be vulnerable to similar extreme weather events.”

Exceptional rainfall last November led to severe flooding and widespread bridge and road damage in Cumbria. Pc Bill Barker was killed when Northside Bridge in Workington collapsed.

Michael Winter, chairman of the bridges group of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport, told MPs today: “In hindsight we should have been more focused on the flood risk.”

He added that the Department for Transport recommended that local authorities spend around 20% to 30% of the money allocated to them for highways on bridges.

Mr Winter went on: “Some authorities are often spending less than that.”

He added that council and local politician priority was often on roads and dealing with potholes rather than on bridges.

Andrew Moss, Cumbria County Council’s service, highways and transportation head, told the committee that Cumbria had spent its full allocation on bridges in four of the last five years.

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