Edinburgh's rainbow bridge: Campaigners urge locals to sign a petition against demolition

Campaigners fighting to save an Leith bridge have urged locals to sign a petition against its demolition as council vows to 'double-check' options for its future.

The bridge which was closed by the council in December over structural safety concerns has had a diversion in place for months with temporary barriers in place.

Most of the 80-year-old structure is still closed to the public but the Dreadnought pub has been granted permission to use one side as an outside beer garden.

Now a petition set up by Roisin Therese, who manages the bar with partner Toby Saltonstall, has topped 1000 signatures.

Roisin Therese with partner Toby Saltonstall

As the campaign gathers pace the pair have also written to local businesses, charities and community groups to ask for their support.

Therese has led the local campaign calling for the bridge to be repaired which she says is widely used by the local community and an important part of Leith’s industrial history.

Local councillor Chas Booth has backed calls to save the bridge and set out proposals for alternative, cost-effective repairs.

Council officials have concluded the bridge is not viable but said on Wednesday that they will ‘double check’ if demolition is the only viable option.

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Since it was pedestrianised decades ago the bridge has acted as the main through route for locals heading from North Fort Street to Lindsay Road.

Previously a diversion was in place onto Hawthornvale path but an alternative route is available onto Lindsay Road, since a section of tram works has been completed.

The landmark became a famous piece of community art when its panels were painted by Therese and local volunteers in rainbow colours of both the ‘Pride’ and the trans pride flags.

The petition reads:

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"The council has earmarked the bridge for demolition due to their failure to maintain it which has led to it becoming structurally unsound. Repairs are possible, and for less than the

price of demolition. However, they are currently reluctant to pursue repair as an option, despite support from local Councillors, business owners and the wider community.”

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “I know how important this bridge is to the local community as a public space, and its closure has been a very

last resort to protect public safety following significant deterioration.

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“The Council has liaised regularly with the Dreadnought Pub and others, including site visits, to discuss the situation. Structural engineers are clear that this 80-year-old bridge is

coming to the end of its lifespan and local stakeholders have previously been made aware that its demolition has been considered the only option for many years. It’s thanks to

careful monitoring by officers that we’ve been able to keep it open this long. Officers have spent a great deal of time considering various solutions to retain the existing bridge but unfortunately, due to its condition, they have concluded this is not viable.

"This is a significant, costly project and must be prioritised against several other projects of this scale across the city.

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“Nonetheless, I am working with local ward councillors to double-check that demolition is the only viable option for this structure. I will place a report in the public domain on this in

the near future, outlining options for the future of the bridge.

“Thankfully, if the demolition does proceed, there is a viable alternative walking and cycling route along Lindsay Road now that section of the Trams to Newhaven project has progressed. We will continue working with the local community to consider the future of this site.”