A renowned tour guide claims a Clitheroe railway bridge is affecting the local tourism industry because its “too low”.
Simon Entwistle, who runs Top Hat Tours and is famous for his ghost walks, is calling for highways bosses at Lancashire County Council to take note of his concerns.
The 62-year-old, who has been conducting coach tours in the borough for over 20 years, says coaches cannot fit under the 11ft 6ins bridge over Waddington Road in the town. The coaches have to divert to Chatburn or Bashall Eaves in order to get to Waddington or the Hodder Valley, costing the tourism industry “a lot of money”.
He explained: “Waddington Road is the perfect route to take tourists into the beauty spots of the Valley, through Waddington on to the fell, and direct access to the fabulous Hodder Valley. I cannot get coaches under the bridge due to height restrictions and therefore access to the Hodder Valley has to be via Chatburn, West Bradford or the Longridge Road to Chipping, which is often very busy with traffic and narrow. This can be time consuming and also quite frustrating.”
He added: “Drivers of coach companies have told me if the road could be lowered by just a few inches direct access could be achieved. I have contacted county hall in the past and been told that it will cost up to £30,000 to alter the road surface.
“This bridge has cost the tourism industry a lot of money due to lost trade. There is also a fear of other lorries, coaches and plant hire machines getting wedged under it.
“I am sure most people in the Ribble Valey will agree with me that tourism means money and is a fabulous way of supporting all those growing businesses. I and many people like myself give 100% in promoting the rural borough as a tourism destination. The lowering of the road under the bridge would be a huge shot in the arm for the industry.
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council, said: “Waddington Road railway bridge is a Network Rail asset. It has a signed headroom of 11ft 6ins. A vehicle over this height may physically fit beneath the bridge, but it is an offence for a driver to contravene the signed height restriction. If a road dips beneath a bridge, a long wheelbase vehicle may struggle to pass beneath the bridge whereas a short wheelbase vehicle may have the requisite headroom. This is a mandatory road sign and non-compliance is liable to prosecution by the police.”