Peel Ports has admitted failing to begin a £1.5 million paint job on Warrington’s three swing bridges for another year is ‘probably not acceptable’.
The company’s representative are set to meet council chiefs and MP Faisal Rashid in January to discuss a plan of action.
The town’s three swing bridges – which cross the Manchester Ship Canal – are situated on Chester Road, London Road and Knutsford Road.
The port operator has previously confirmed it would cost around £500,000 to repaint each structure – £1.5 million in total.
Last year, Cllr Terry O’Neill, who was the council leader at the time, told councillors that the firm had finally agreed to begin work in summer this year following widespread public pressure.
However, pressure continues to mount on the firm after a failure to do so.
Warrington South MP Mr Rashid recently wrote to Mark Whitworth, chief executive of Peel Ports, to raise concerns about the maintenance of the bridges.
In his letter, the Labour politician said they were in a poor state of repair and in desperate need of painting, while calling for assurances that the work would commence soon.
In its response, the firm’s strategic projects director, Gary Hodgson, told Mr Rashid that when Peel Ports’ representatives met with council chief executive Steven Broomhead, it was agreed that the first priority was to work to resolve congestion at Warburton Toll Bridge.
It added that once that work had been completed, painting work would then begin on one of the three swing bridges.
In the letter, the firm added: “This agreement was made in all good faith that we could get the toll bridge situation resolved within 12 to 18 months and, as such, work would probably commence in 2019 on the first bridge.
“Unfortunately, what none of us realised at the time was the protracted (and quite painstaking) process we would have to go through to change things at the toll – and, sadly, we are still at least another year from a final resolution.
“I therefore accept that we have to revisit our original agreement, as doing nothing on the swing bridges for at least another year is probably not acceptable to any of us.”
Mr Rashid is now arranging a meeting with senior officials from Peel Ports and the council in January to discuss when, and how, work on all three bridges will take place.
He added: “I am pleased to hear that Peel Ports intends to honour their agreement to paint the swing bridges.
“I agree that doing nothing for at least another year is not acceptable.
“Like my constituents, I want to see work start as soon as possible.
“At our meeting, I will be calling on both parties to agree to a formal plan of action.
“My hope is that following this meeting work on the bridges can then begin without any further delay.”