THE fate of a 'precious' medieval bridge hangs in the balance but the response so far has been 'underwhelming' says a community leader.

A gaping hole has appeared in flood-battered Powick Old Bridge which had already partially collapsed at the beginning of the year.

An independent Powick councillor, Tom Wells, has written to Worcestershire County Council five months after the partial collapse to say he has been 'underwhelmed' by the response so far. 

TREASURE: Powick Old Bridge TREASURE: Powick Old Bridge (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

Cllr Wells wrote: "I have to say I have been left underwhelmed by the apparent lack of any serious intention to urgently create and implement a strategy.

"I am not suggesting for one moment that this is a simple challenge, for it clearly involves the necessary consent of various bodies, including the Environment Agency and English Heritage."

Famous for its role in both the first and last battles of the English Civil War (the Battle of Powick Bridge in 1642 and the Battle of Worcester in 1651), the scheduled monument is considered an integral part of the city's and county's history and heritage.HOLE: The hole in Powick Old Bridge HOLE: The hole in Powick Old Bridge (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

Meanwhile, some concern has been raised about progress on the Kepax Bridge over the River Severn. However, a new subcontractor has now been found and Marc Bayliss, the man hoping to become Worcester's next Conservative MP and also cabinet member with responsibility for highways and transport on Worcestershire County Council, has been given assurances the project is on schedule.

Cllr Bayliss also said he was 'committed to doing what we can to restore Powick Old Bridge'.

CONCERNED: Tom Collins, the candidate to become the next Labour MP of Worcester, is concerned about the 'continuing degradation of Powick Old Bridge' CONCERNED: Tom Collins, the candidate to become the next Labour MP of Worcester, is concerned about the 'continuing degradation of Powick Old Bridge' (Image: Labour)

Tom Collins, the Labour candidate to become Worcester's next MP, said: "I am very concerned about the continuing degradation of Powick Old Bridge.

"It’s a precious part of our history and heritage and it needs to be protected and restored urgently. I’m sure others, like me, are worried about the potential impact of another winter unless we shore it up.

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"We will need to look carefully at the causes of the damage and long-term approaches to protect it from increasingly severe flooding, but for the meantime the urgent work must be to prevent further deterioration. So far, it seems that not enough has been done to stop the continuing collapse. This will be a key priority interest for me if I’m elected as our next MP.

"Local people have told me that they are concerned that work seems to have stopped on Kepax Bridge. People are concerned that costs and time scales could be escalating out of control."

He added: "It’s my hope that, in the future, both of these bridges will be a source of real pride for our city."

Jon Fraser, from Worcestershire County Council, speaking on Friday, said:  "We are waiting for the temporary works design to be finalised. Once this is ready, a temporary working platform will be installed.  

"This platform will protect the damaged section from losing more material, it will prevent water from entering the arch so that work can take place, and if the river does flood water will be diverted over the top of the platform. This approach will also lead to a large proportion of the original stonework being reclaimed."