The community of Lossiemouth has been invited to rally behind calls to save, or indeed replace, the iconic East Beach Bridge, which was closed for safety reasons last week.
Lossiemouth Community Development Trust, Lossiemouth Community Council, and Lossiemouth Business Association have invited the community to an open meeting in Lossie Town Hall tomorrow evening, Wednesday 31 July, with doors opening at 6.30 for a 7pm start.
Key questions to be addressed at the meeting include: what is the current situation? What are the options?
Following the bridge closure, Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has written to the Ministry of Defence and the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism seeking urgent help to reinstate access to the East beach.
Mr Lochhead has asked the Ministry of Defence whether they can step in to source a temporary bridge for the crossing, highlighting the willingness of the 39 Engineers Regiment at Kinloss to assist the local community should the required materials be made available.
He has also written to the Scottish Government’s Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Secretary, to ask what help and support she can offer the local community, given the importance of the beach to the local tourism sector.
Speaking last week, Mr Lochhead said: “The closure of Lossie’s iconic footbridge at the height of the tourist season is a huge blow and I know that local businesses are already concerned about the immediate impact its having.
“Although I’m on my family holiday, I have been keeping in touch with community representatives and have been contacting various agencies to help try to find a way forward.
“After speaking with senior personnel at Kinloss Barracks – where they helpfully said they were ready to help in any way they can – I wrote to the MOD to ask that they look at urgently at deploying a temporary bridge from elsewhere to Lossiemouth.
“Losing access to one of Moray’s most popular beaches in the middle of summer is devastating for the community and the businesses who rely on visitors to the area and I’ve been in touch with the Scottish Government’s Tourism Secretary to ask for any support she’s able to provide.
“We know that a permanent solution will take time and a considerable sum of money, however, we do urgently need to find a temporary solution that allows access to the beach to be reinstated as soon as possible, and we must ensure that no stone is left unturned in our efforts to get a temporary fix put in place. The taskforce that the Moray Council is looking to establish will certainly help with that and I hope it will be able to meet as soon as possible.”
Echoing the calls by Lossiemouth Heritage Association on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pg/Lossiemouth-Heritage-Association-1974030129285442/posts/?ref=page_internal, Mr Lochhead added: “Whilst the bridge may be closed, we should all remember that Lossiemouth is very much open for business and we should continue to support the traders on the esplanade and in the community, as this will no doubt be a very anxious time for them.”
In the meantime, the crowdfunding efforts of Lossiemouth Community Development Trust are making good progress, with over £12,000 pledged to date by over 500 supporters. Donations can be made on their crowdfunding page on https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lossietrust