THOUSANDS of punters attending high-stakes cards at Musselburgh Racecourse are bringing the town to a “standstill” – amid a wrangle over a now defunct bridge.
For years, the electric crossing over the Esk was deployed to ease traffic congestion on race days or during the Edinburgh Marathon, which concludes in the town.
But since Cockenzie Power Station was decommissioned in March, ScottishPower – which owns the bridge – said there was no “operational need” to manage or maintain it.
Crunch talks are now being held with East Lothian Council to bring the 50-year-old crossing back into use.
It is understood racecourse chiefs have also been in negotiations, but despite offering to pay insurance costs they failed to broker a deal.
Councillor Stuart Currie, who represents Musselburgh East and Carberry, called for the bridge to be lowered on race days.
He said: “Whatever arrangements are reached with the bridge, it needs to happen pretty soon.
“The bridge needs to be available for long-term use on racedays. We’ve got ladies’ day coming up and it looks like it’ll be closed for that as well. These are major events bringing thousands of people to Musselburgh, which is being brought to a standstill.
“ScottishPower have been in Musselburgh for up to 60 years, and I’d be disappointed if they walked away and said ‘it’s nothing to do with us’.”
A spokesman for ScottishPower said: “Now that the power station is closed, there is no operational need for the bridge as far as ScottishPower are concerned, so we no longer carry out the regular inspections and maintenance required to keep the bridge safe for the general public to use.
“Once we realised that there was no further operational need for the bridge then we entered into discussions with the council over management of the bridge as we recognise its importance. We are continuing these discussions but if other parties were interested in the bridge then we’d happily speak to them as well.”