The petition was started by East Devon District Councillor Val Ranger whose ward, Newton Poppleford and Harpford, the bridge resides in.
Harpford Red Bridge
Cllr Ranger has said the bridge is in need of repairs and has been told by Devon County Council (DCC) that if repair works are not completed by September, it will have to close for safety reasons.
She said: “The reason we are doing the petition is not in a combative way, we don’t want that message to come across.
“It is to support the council because they have to justify why they have spent money on a certain thing so then they can say there is huge community support.”
The bridge is part of the East Devon Way which is a 40-mile walking route through the area and Cllr Ranger believes more people have been using the bridge since lockdown began.
She said: “The bridge has always been really well used but now more than ever people are enjoying their outdoor environment and the Government are encouraging people to do so. We’re trying to get people to use their cars less so that bridge is just such a vital link.”
“There’s no doubt that usage has increased [since lockdown began] but equally you can see this bridge is held dear by many people. People have said things like ‘I proposed on that bridge’ or ‘I ran across that bridge when I got married’.
“It’s really held in great affection. It’s a fantastic point for spotting wildlife on the river, the number of birds we see as well as otter and beaver sightings.
“I live near and people walk past my window all the time. I would say in the summer people are running over that bridge at about 5.30 in the morning and you even see running groups coming in the dark with their lights bobbing. It’s probably used 19 hours a day, it is extraordinary.”
If you wish to read more or to sign the petition, visit www.change.org/p/nigel-laws-repair-our-local-bridge.