THE first steps toward re-opening an eyesore footbridge in Halstead town centre have been made.

The Riverside footbridge, which connects Sainsbury’s car park to Rosemary Lane was closed on health and safety grounds by Essex County Council in 2014. Latest estimates say repairs could cost a whopping £47,000.

But Braintree Council has now announced it will stump up £6,000 for a structural survey which could break the deadlock and pave the way for the bridge to re-open.

The bridge, which spans the River Colne, is owned by the Crown Estate, but Halstead Town Council has committed to take on responsibility for its maintenance once repairs have been completed.

Braintree Council leader Graham Butland said: “We know that the footbridge is important to some in the Halstead community.

“Although the footbridge doesn’t belong to us, we want this money to be used to kick-start the process which will enable the town council to establish what works are needed in the future.”

Negotiations over who will fund repairs have been taking place for several months between the town council, Braintree Council, Essex highways and the Crown Estate. Halstead mayor and district councillor Andy Munday said: “On behalf of Halstead Town Council, I am very thankful for the financial help and project support that Braintree Council is giving towards the Riverside Footbridge Project.

“Braintree Council and the working group from Halstead Town Council have been working together since April to find a way forward in providing a funding path for a structural survey report.

“The completion of this report is a key part of the project, allowing Halstead Town Council to understand not just what is wrong with the bridge but also to provide them with the technical expertise of how to fix it to a recognised standard.

“Further funding initiatives from other sources will be needed for the actual repairs to the bridge itself, but Halstead Town Council remains committed to taking ownership of the bridge, once repaired, and maintaining it thereafter.”

He added: “The support given by Braintree Council represents a positive step forward in our quest to restore the bridge to a useable condition for the residents of Halstead.”