A Bexley councillor has said he understands the concerns of local businesses and residents, when work to improve the Old Mill bridge in Bexley High Street begins a month today (January 7).

Last month High Street traders, many of whom run independent stores, told News Shopper they were terrified they could lose their livelihood - when the bridge over the River Cray is replaced with a new, stronger, and slightly wider one.

Part of the road is expected to close for up to six months during the roadworks, however Bexley Council say the old bridge must be replaced as soon as possible.

Cabinet member for traffic and transport Coun Alex Sawyer said: "I can assure local people that the decision to replace the bridge has not been taken lightly.

News Shopper: Councillor Alex Sawyer says CCTV is no substitute for community responsibility

"It is essential that we invest in this critical infrastructure, so that the village can continue to thrive in the future.

"I completely understand the anxiety and concerns of local businesses and residents.

"The village will be open throughout the work and I would encourage people to continue to support their local businesses.

"Those who currently drive through it as part of their onward journey should take a different route. This will help minimise congestion for those who use the village.


"A great deal of thought has gone into the construction project and we are doing all we can to mitigate any disruption.

"There is never a good time to replace the bridge.

"The project is large and complex and I accept that the council can't please everyone all of the time, but the possible consequences of not replacing it now simply do not bear thinking about."

Last month, Chex Boutique co-owner David Greenberg said: "The impact on business in the village is going to be horrendous.

"I appreciate the works have to be done, but we do not know why it has to take so long."

News Shopper:

We Love Cakes owner Julie Hill (above left) added: "It will drive my business under."

Two-way traffic lights will be in operation around the Old Mill from January 7 to February 22, however there may be times when these can be removed.

Bexley Council claim much as possible of the new bridge will be constructed off site, to speed up the works, and the road only will be fully closed for only five weeks, from February 22 until March 28.

Northbound traffic will continue to be diverted until the bridge's completion - which is expected to be in July next year.

How will the roadworks affect you? Email josie.griffiths@london.newsquest.co.uk to have your say.