Controversial plans to close a centuries old north-east bridge to traffic could be approved next week despite protests that the move could disrupt weddings and funerals.
The Bishop’s Bridge at Cruden Bay has been left extensively damaged after a spate of recent crashes.
Aberdeenshire Council hopes to avoid any further repair costs by closing off the 17th century structure to anything larger than a motorbike.
On Tuesday, members of the Buchan area committee will be asked to wave through a proposed prohibition of driving order.
However, a report by roads officials has revealed that the local authority has received 21 letters and e-mails calling for the plan to be scrapped.
Opponents argue that a closure of the B-listed crossing will lead to fewer worshippers at the nearby Cruden Parish Church and would also lead to lengthy detours.
There is also concern that it could affect future funerals and weddings.
In his letter of objection, Cruden Parish Church organist Stephen Calder wrote: “This would significantly affect the local community and visitors to the church, especially the majority who travel from the Hatton district.
“And it would adversely affect funerals – with most of the hearses travelling from undertakers at Ellon and Peterhead – and weddings.”
He said the closure could also have a negative impact on older and disable members of the church congregation.
Former councillor Sam Coull, who has also objected, said the problem could be solved by installing road humps to slow down traffic.
He said: “I’m sure the council isn’t insensitive to the inconvenience and additional journey time which will be involved for motorists if the bridge is shut.
“The closure seems to be heavy handed and an extreme measure, when sleeping policemen set at appropriate distances would probably be very effective.”
However, roads officers say that traffic calming measures such as road humps are not permitted on this type of road.
In a joint report by infrastructure services director Stephen Archer and business services boss Christine Gore, it is stated that a suggestion to have the bridge re-opened on Sundays for church traffic was unlikely.
“Restricted opening times require policing and key holders to accept responsibility for opening and closing roads,” a council spokesman said. “These type of arrangements are not permissible on public roads.”
The 6ft wide crossing was built for James Drummond, Bishop of Brechin from 1684 to 1689, ahead of his arrival in Cruden Bay. He stayed at nearby Slains Castle.
It was first shut in December after a 4X4 vehicle ploughed into one of its parapets.
The bridge had only been reopened for a short time when it was hit again in the middle of January. The crash caused damage to a separate section of its stone wall.