Marlow residents have reacted furiously to suggestions that the town’s iconic bridge should be closed permanently to “preserve” it for future generations.

The bridge, which has a three-tonne weight limit, has been closed for more than a month since a lorry from Lithuanian company, Girteka Logistics, broke through width restrictions on the Berkshire side and tried to cross into Marlow.

John Healy, once a regular visitor to Marlow, said he is “confused” as to why Bucks County Council is “spending a fortune” on rigorous tests to make it safe for traffic once again when it could be turned into a pedestrian bridge.

However, Marlow residents have branded the suggestion “ridiculous”, arguing that the bridge is a vital link between the town and Bisham, a major route for commuters and needed to help local businesses.

Gemma Fox, from Plume Boutique in Liston Court, said the bridge closure has had a “huge negative impact” on trade and fears that if it remains closed for up to six months, independent businesses in the town will suffer.

She said: “Do the residents and those in favour of keeping the bridge closed permanently really want to see Marlow High Street become dominated by charity, mobile phone and betting shops only? As these will be the only retailers left who can weather the financial fall out and the drastic drop in footfall.”

In an online ballot created by the Bucks Free Press, the option to close the bridge permanently came out top with 83 per cent of the vote.

However, 10,584 votes originated from just one computer. Discounting repeat votes, 386 people voted in favour of closing the bridge, while 1097 agreed it should remain open.

Resident, Malcolm McDonald, “strongly opposes” closing the bridge, saying: “The current system works perfectly and closure would deny many people ready access to the town” while George Duncan added that his journey around the town has been a “nightmare” since the closure due to extra traffic.

Marlow resident, Sarah Jones, said: “Although I don't use the bridge regularly, it is a key route between Marlow and Bisham, and without that link for traffic it cuts off the school, church, and the rest of the village from Marlow shops and other facilities.

“Currently local businesses are suffering, especially Town Farm in Bisham.”

Jenny Knott said that while she has “enjoyed the quiet” at the end of the High Street” the value of the bridge as a route through the town is obvious.

Sam Chapman, who lives in Cookham but works in Marlow, said: “It has taken my husband and I between 30 and 45 minutes to make the three mile journey to and from work and I note that the shops are quieter since the bridge closure. Marlow needs the bridge open as it brings valuable business to the town.”

On the other hand, Maria Cook suggested that the bridge should either be closed or a height barrier put in place to prevent another lorry trying to cross.

She said: “I also think the bridge could be closed and used like the bridge in Prague, for small individual craft stalls, this would bring in some revenue and of course the stall holders would pay a ‘rent’ this could go toward the upkeep of the bridge. The craft stalls would also bring in visitors and trade.”

Andy Garside said it was “clear” Marlow Bridge should become a pedestrian and cyclist only route.

He said: “It only has width for a single vehicle and minor approach roads. It therefore has less than one per cent of the capacity of the A404 and contributes nothing.

“It is also the main cause of issues at Bisham roundabout. This is producing the requirement to spend £1.8m on changes to the junction and introduction of traffic lights to the A404 to rectifying this.”

Transport for Bucks have ruled out the possibility of closing the “landmark structure” permanently, saying they are considering new measures to prevent a similar incident happening again.