THE mystery surrounding ownership of one of Moray’s best-loved structures could soon be unravelled.
Just who bears responsibility for Lossiemouth’s iconic east beach bridge is unknown, with varying theories raised and then subsequently dismissed.
It’s taken over four years, and countless hours of painstaking research, but one local man thinks he’s now got the answer.
Documents uncovered by resident Jim Dartnall suggest responsibility lies with Moray Council, the town’s community council heard.
Mr Dartnall has written to the local authority to outline his case in the hope of ‘quick and meaningful’ progress.
“We await the Moray Council,” he told the gathering.
The walkway – used by tourists and locals alike to cross the River Lossie – was erected in 1908 and replaced a decade later. It forms a pivotal section of the Moray Way, the Coastal Route, is marked as a northern European walking route and is also part of a core path. While the footbridge is still standing nearly 100 years on, there have been repeated calls for it to be replaced on safety and accessibility grounds.
The question mark over its rightful owner came to the fore in 2008, when the town’s community council, along with the local authority, made moves to apply for the Scottish Homecoming funding to help replace the structure.
A community council bridge committee was formed two years later, and Mr Dartnall has since trawled through the town council minutes from 1890 to 1974, Boat Shelter minutes, Edinburgh Gazette entries, newspaper archives as well as piles of other documents.
Integral to his argument is a 1912 letter from the Harbour Commissioners, sometimes known as the Boat Shelter Commissioners, asking for powers to replace the bridge “recently erected by and belonging to the town council”.
It was brought down in 1913 and erected in its present position in 1918, when town council minutes show it was examined by the Burgh surveyor and Lossiemouth Town Council agreed to re-take control. Mr Dartnall said with reorganisation of local government in 1974, town council property was handed to Moray District Council and then to Moray Council.
Why would the council have funded repair works to the tune of £150,000 in 1995 were it not responsible? he added.
That was the last time any major works were undertaken.
Quoting the conclusion to his letter to the authority, he told the meeting: “The only positive course of action is for Moray Council to accept ownership of the Lossiemouth east beach footbridge, then sort out funding sources or means of raising funds via trust funds, and continue to carry out any maintenance and health and safety issues raised.”
A council spokesman said Mr Dartnall’s correspondence had been received and would be considered.