Business leaders in Lossiemouth have urged firms to speak out about the importance of the town’s East Beach bridge to build the strongest case for its replacement.
The crossing to the sands was closed in July last year on safety grounds after it buckled under the weight of thousands of sun-seekers.
The Scottish Government has committed to funding a replacement with a £1million contract already awarded to design and build the structure.
However, Lossiemouth Business Association has warned it is crucial firms in the town outline the economic losses of the bridge closure to make the case for the investment.
Business case crucial to bridge funding
In the months following the crossing being sealed off, some restaurants revealed takings had halved on the waterfront.
Val McLennan, vice-chairwoman of Lossiemouth Business Association, said: “We all know the impact the bridge closure has had on the town but it needs to be spelled out in black and white to build the case.
“The project is dependent on the business case. If the Scottish Government look at it and doesn’t see much impact then they might not think it makes any difference.
“It’s not just about the waterfront either, they really need to hear from the whole town to understand how the closure has changed what happens in Lossiemouth.
“We also don’t want it to just focus on money, but also include information about which parts of the town are now busier and whether the closure has caused any safety issues.”
Information included from the surveys will be compiled with studies done by contractor Beaver Bridges, who have examined possible sites for the new crossing.
Survey reveals preferred location for new bridge
Surveys have already been done in recent months to gather views of residents about where the new crossing should be built.
More than 1,300 took part in the process with 63% wanting the new bridge to be built in a similar position to the current one.
About 19% voted for it to built from the Esplanade, which would require a structure about half the length, with the remaining 18% having no preference.
The results will be compiled with the economic impact assessment and studies done by Beaver Bridges when choosing the final design.
It is hoped that construction on the new Lossiemouth bridge will be able to begin in the summer once the business case and ground surveys have been examined.
Funding to promote Lossiemouth days out
Meanwhile, campaigners in the town have also secured a £5,000 boost from the Scottish Government’s £1million Scotland Loves Local fund to promote other attractions in the area.
Business association committee member Alison Read said: “In the first few months of the year we’re going to go round the town and film videos to show it’s possible to still have a fun day out in Lossiemouth.
“Even if the bridge isn’t available, we still have another beautiful beach, there are great cafes and restaurants, there’s a golf course – lots of things for day trips.
“Footfall has been down because of Covid-19 but we want to show that Lossiemouth still has a lot to offer.”
Firms can take part in the Lossiemouth Business Association survey by e-mailing email@example.com before January 31.