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Scottish Government is stepping in to save or replace Lossiemouth’s East Beach Footbridge.
Following a request by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Tourism, Fiona Hyslop MSP, wrote to Mr Lochhead to “commit the Scottish Government to funding the repair or replacement of the footbridge to protect safe access to the beach and the jobs and businesses who benefit from it”.
Commenting on the decision, Mr Lochhead said: “This is brilliant news for Lossiemouth that will be warmly welcomed with ecstatic celebration and also a huge sigh of relief!
“Having made the case to Scottish Ministers, I am personally delighted the Scottish Government has come to the rescue given the exceptional circumstances and the fact that access to the town’s famous pristine beach is a lifeline for the local community.
“This is great news for local people, holidaymakers and, of course, local businesses who benefit significantly from the tourists drawn to the area by the beautiful beach. It has been a troubling time since the closure of the bridge in July and the uncertainty over future access to the beach has been a matter of great interest and discussion. It is without doubt a significant boost for the local economy and a relief for the surrounding employers and employees alike.
“I commend the efforts of the local community, with whom it has been a delight to work alongside to help secure this funding, and I’ve nothing but praise for its grit and determination in the face of adversity – this is so typical of the strong community spirit in Lossiemouth.
“I’m very grateful to colleagues in the Scottish Government for listening, understanding and most importantly, responding positively to Lossiemouth’s case, and I welcome the recognition Scottish Ministers has given to the key role of the bridge to the community.
“I look forward to the next steps being taken to get a safe bridge back into action now that funding has been secured and I am sure the community will share in my delight.”
Welcoming the decision, Moray Council Leader Graham Leadbitter said: “The inclusion of a replacement footbridge at Lossiemouth is fantastic news for the town and for Moray. Lossiemouth’s East Beach is an iconic location and the sudden loss of bridge access with the bridge failure has left it pretty much inaccessible for most visitors and locals alike.
“This is a major attraction for Lossiemouth and the beach access is vital for the town’s economy. Not only that but, despite clear warnings, people are wading out to the beach which is a major safety concern for public agencies, local organisations and the wider Lossiemouth community.”
Council Convener Shona Morrison, who has been heavily involved in meetings with community groups and partner organisations regarding the bridge closure, said: “Funding for a replacement bridge is amazing news and clearly recognises the unique impact this piece of infrastructure has for Lossiemouth, Moray and the wider north east visitor economy. This will help keep the Jewel of Moray shining for a long-time to come.
“Clearly there is a job of work to be done getting a bridge designed and practical requirements such as planning permission and land ownership sorted out but the funding commitment helps to move things forward and dispel uncertainty.”
Amy Taylor, local Councillor for Heldon & Laich Ward, which takes in Lossiemouth, said: “Clearly the loss of the bridge access to the East Beach has been a major worry for businesses and the wider Lossiemouth community and I am very pleased that this funding commitment has been made by the Scottish Government.
“That certainty going forward is a huge relief and lets us move forward with the task of procuring and constructing a new bridge, which will contribute greatly to the prosperity of Lossiemouth.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross also commented, saying: “There has been an impressive community-led campaign to replace this vital bridge and I’m pleased that efforts are now underway locally and nationally to deliver this project. I wrote to the Scottish Government on 2 August urging them to support these efforts and I’m pleased that has now been confirmed.
“There was an urgent need to find a solution to this problem for local businesses and the whole of Lossiemouth and while this announcement is welcome, we have to redouble our efforts to see it delivered as quickly as possible.”
Writing on its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/LCDTrust/), Lossiemouth Community Development Trust, which has been at the forefront of local efforts to save or replace the Bridge, said: “Absoloutely delighted with the news just in! A Huge thank you to Richard Lochhead MSP for his continued support and we look forward to the next stages. Thank you”