FURY has erupted that a feasibility study into a desperately-needed footbridge over a busy main road has still not started – despite funding being in place for well over a year.

Campaigners say pedestrians are taking their lives in their hands trying to get across the Aire Valley trunk road, one of the fastest and busiest routes in the district.

The Government gave £700,000 for investigations into a bridge spanning the dual carriageway, to link Steeton and Silsden.

But it has been revealed that it could be another several months before the study starts.

Although Bradford Council is spearheading the project, the money is being handled by West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Community leaders have voiced their anger at the delays and are demanding answers and urgent action.

MP John Grogan is calling a meeting of all those involved before the end of the year.

“I want to see a clear timetable of when we can expect the feasibility study report itself,” he said.

“Having got the money in place for the study, we need a greater sense of urgency in getting the consultants started.

“It is certainly better to get a good job done rather than rushing things, but patience is wearing thin.”

Among those pressing for answers is Adrian Naylor, a Craven-ward district councillor and member of Silsden Town Council.

He said when he raised the issue in May, he was told the study would begin in a couple of months.

“The £700,000 that was specifically allocated for this project had been granted 14 months prior to that,” he told us.

“The money has been sat there all this time and now we’re told they’re ‘about to’ appoint consultants.

“I do not understand the delay.

“It will be into next year – and two years since the funding was allocated – before we see anything happen.”

Cllr Naylor adds that until the study is carried out, no evaluation can be made of whether a footbridge at the site – close to the Silsden/Steeton roundabout – will be possible or the cost involved.

“From a road safety point of view there is currently no alternative but to take your life into your hands trying to cross there,” he said.

“You can understand the need for a footbridge, but practically, it has to be determined whether one is feasible and where the money to build the structure would come from.”

Both Silsden Town Council and neighbouring Steeton-with-Eastburn Parish Council have included a footbridge in their joint neighbourhood plan.

Councillor Peter Robinson, Silsden’s mayor and town council chairman, said a bridge was his “number one priority”.

“It’s something that’s desperately needed – I have tried crossing that road myself and it’s a nightmare,” added the 76-year-old.

“You have to get half-way to the traffic island first and then try to negotiate the rest of it.

“It’s a real hazard, for all pedestrians but especially for the elderly and infirm, people in wheelchairs and parents with buggies.

“It is ridiculous that the road was ever built without a footbridge in the first place.

“I will continue to press for this.”

Steeton-with-Eastburn Parish Council chairman, Councillor David Mullen, said you “have to be Linford Christie” to get across the road safely.

“It’s a horrendous situation,” he said.

“Talk of a footbridge has been going on for years but I don’t think there’s any will on the part of the local authority – we’re too far out of Bradford.

“I was appointed a statutory consultee on this, but I haven’t been kept in the loop.

“The study needs to be carried out without any more delay.”

Three years ago, the then MP – Kris Hopkins – launched a petition calling for the footbridge and brought Government ministers to the site to see the situation for themselves.

Those who helped gather petition signatures included Rebecca Whitaker, now a Craven-ward district councillor who also sits on Silsden Town Council.

“I don’t know why there’s been such a massive delay with this scheme,” she said.

“It’s extremely disappointing that we’re not further on with it.

“One of the key issues for Silsden people in a survey was the need for a footbridge and I’m frequently asked what’s happening with it.

“Having got the money for the study, we need to move forward.

“The dual carriageway is already very, very busy.

“As more housing is built in the area, those traffic levels are increasing further but so too is the number of pedestrians.

“When developers submit applications for large-scale housing in Silsden, they talk about the close proximity of their sites to the railway station. But they overlook the fact that there’s a busy and dangerous road for people to cross.

“You do get a lot of people walking to and from the railway station – and more people would probably use it if there was a footbridge – but pedestrians need to cross that road for other purposes as well.

“For example, you get groups of walkers who want to use some of the excellent footpaths around Silsden, and at the moment it’s just not safe for them trying to negotiate the dual carriageway.”

Bradford Council’s executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, says the feasibility study is currently out to tender.

“We hope to have someone in place in the next few months,” he added.

“We have been working as fast as we can to make progress on this project.

“This is as well as delivering a massive capital work programme of well over £120m which includes the Hard Ings Road improvement scheme in Keighley, plus the improvements to New Line Greengates junction, work on the Shipley Canal Road corridor and redevelopment of Forster Square Railway Station and the Interchange, which will be of benefit to all travelling through the district.”

West Yorkshire Combined Authority said it was hoped to have a consultant appointed within a month.

A spokesman said: “The project falls within the Cycle City Ambition Grant-funded CityConnect programme and we are supporting Bradford with commissioning the development work to understand the business case for the scheme.

“Due to its value the procurement exercise is subject to stringent rules and regulations, but it is nearing its conclusion and we hope to have a consultant on board to take the work forward within the month.”