Loftus community 'desperate' over flood-hit bridge loss

Gaskell Lane Bridge
Image caption Residents are worried that emergency services would not be able to reach them if needed

People in a small community cut off when a bridge leading to their homes was badly damaged by flooding have said they desperately need help.

Gaskell Lane Bridge, in Loftus, Teesside, was wrecked in September leaving six homes cut off.

Some residents in their 80s and 90s are frightened in case emergency services cannot reach them.

Redcar and Cleveland Council said it was working with other agencies to try to identify funding for repairs.

Kathleen Himsworth lives in one of the homes affected and said a five-foot tidal wave had caused serious damage.

She has opened up her private land to allow people and deliveries to reach the homes.

However, some emergency service personnel said they doubted the rough farm track would be suitable for their vehicles.

'Real fears'

Ms Himsworth said people were "distraught" because they did not know what the future held.

"It seems as though it should be illegal that all these elderly people can be stranded for six months with no emergency services," she added.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said he had "real fears" about emergency services not being able to reach the properties.

He said he had been told the repairs did not qualify for recently-announced flood defence funding and that he was trying to get the agencies to sit down together.

The Environment Agency said it had attended meetings and was continuing to remove debris to cut flood risk but could not allocate money.

Northumbrian Water said it had lined a sewer under the bridge to reduce the risk of pollution if the bridge collapsed and was carrying out regular inspections.

Council cabinet member for highways, planning and transport Helen McLuckie said they were trying hard to get the situation resolved.

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