WHEELCHAIR users, cyclists and parents with pushchairs are no closer to getting ramps on a South Oxford railway footbridge.

Network Rail (NR) has won a battle against Oxford City Council which means it can replace Grandpont Bridge with a like-for-like replacement.

The council refused NR permission for the rebuild because it wanted the firm to fit ramps on the bridge which runs from near Whitehouse Road to Hogacre Common Eco Park.

The Government’s Planning Inspectorate found in favour of NR on July 16 but council leader Bob Price last night vowed to keep fighting the firm.

He said: “We think it is ludicrous in the context of the Equality Act 2010.

“The replacement bridge will be there for 100 years or so, yet we are not accommodating people with disabilities or pushchairs.”

The Planning Inspectorate also ruled in the company’s favour in a similar case regarding Hinksey Footbridge earlier this year.

The council has written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ask for support in both cases.

Mr Price said the council had not spent any money on the appeal, using the same evidence it prepared to refuse planning permission in the first place.

NR is replacing a total of 29 bridges in Oxfordshire as part of its £2bn electrification of the Great Western Mainline from London to Cardiff.

Spokesman Russell Spink said: “As a taxpayer-funded organisation, we have to strike a balance between building a replacement bridge that meets the needs both of the railway and the community with the limited funds available.

“We fully appreciate the concerns regarding accessibility at the Hinksey bridge and we will continue looking at opportunities to develop an improved design should additional funds become available.”

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