Residents have issued renewed calls for weight regulation of vehicles crossing Marlow’s Grade-I listed bridge through Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) – days before a two-week ‘inspection and survey’ of the landmark crossing.

Marlow Bridge will be closed to motorists between the hours of 8pm and 6am on Monday, May 13.

It will allow Buckinghamshire Council to carry out a full inspection of the structure, with scaffolding installed around both bridge towers to give engineers “full access”.

The same closure will be enforced while the scaffolding is taken down. 

Dominic Barnes, the council’s Deputy Member for Transport, told the Free Press that “some of the bridge’s bearings” are in need of repair and spoke of a programme of “maintenance and upgrade works” planned between 2024 and 2025.

Adding: “This initial surveying will tell us exactly what’s needed and allow us to fully plan these works in.

“We’re committed to protecting and enhancing this historic and attractive structure and this will help us to move our maintenance and improvement work forward. We will be aiming to keep disruption to a minimum.”

Concern about the bridge, which was built in 1834 and underwent major refurbishments first in 1890 and then in the 1960s, has been rife in recent years and months.

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At The Marlow Society’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday night (May 7), trustees interested in the preservation and development of the town took part in a straw poll asking how they thought the bridge would best be preserved.

The option of installing Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras or enforcing the bridge’s three-tonne weight limit by “other means” received the most support, with other suggestions including a toll bridge system with charges for non-residents, conversion into a one-lane route from Marlow to Bisham and pedestrianisation.

Speaking at the meeting, co-chair Richard Parker said an ANPR system could “remove the cost and maintenance” of the bridge’s controversial weight restriction bollards and “create money that could go into funding bridge repairs”.

However, speaking on behalf of the council, Mr Barnes said the introduction of ANPR on Marlow Bridge would be “a waste of taxpayers’ money and a waste of resources”.

Cameras on the bridge would be classed as enforcement of a structural weight limit, which was not among the traffic offences Bucks Council was granted authority over by the Department of Transport in 2022 despite a short-term trial that showed the three-tonne limit was being breached an average of 97 times a day.

An earlier version of this article stated that Marlow Bridge would be closed between 6pm and 8am every night for two weeks from Monday, May 13. This information was incorrect and has been rectified.