THERE’S anger in Arborfield after the new relief road was subject to an arson attack.
On Tuesday, December 8, debris on the bridge passing over Observer Way was set alight, damaging a gate and nearby fencing – just days after being opened.
It’s believed a group of between 10 and 15 young people may be responsible.
After more than 10 years in the making, the new road was built to direct traffic away from Arborfield to reduce congestion.
It was deemed “an incredible milestone for the borough” by Cllr Wayne Smith, executive member for planning and enforcement.
A concerned resident, who was near the site on Tuesday, December 8, said they saw a group of youths hanging off the bridge, “putting themselves and other road users’ lives at risk”.
They believe the group are responsible for the arson attack.
Cllr Gary Cowan, ward councillor for Arborfield, said he was “very disappointed” to hear about the damage to the bridge.
“I am both very annoyed and disappointed that local youths who are really vandals and arsonists should act this way,” he said.
“Observer Way and its bridge are very welcome additions that benefit the residents of the borough as a whole, whether you drive a car, cycle, walk or ride a horse.
“Such vandalism and arson within days of it opening is very sad indeed.”
And Cllr Cowan’s anger has been echoed by Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport.
“Observer Way is always reducing residents’ journey times and providing a road, shared path and green bridge which is benefitting almost all who use it,” she explained.
“This kind of irresponsible behaviour is extremely disappointing to hear of, can lead to serious incidents and we hope this will be the last of it.”
A spokesperson for Wokingham Borough Council says that repairs must now be done to the bridge and will cost approximately £1,000, but there will be no impact on the local community.
Now, Cllr Cowan hopes those who are responsible for the arson can be identified.
“If such vandalism and arson is not stopped, how far these vandals will go is a very big worry,” the councillor warned.