Charminster bridge protection 'ridiculous' MP says

Charminster flooding Image copyright Laurence Herdman
Image caption Mr Letwin and a number of villagers are calling for the nearby bridge to be removed and replaced

An MP is calling for a bridge regarded as the cause of flooding to a Grade I-listed church in Dorset to be removed.

The bridge over the River Cerne in Charminster, which has listed status by English Heritage, becomes backed up with water during heavy rainfall.

St Mary the Virgin church flooded with over 1ft (30cm) of water on Saturday.

West Dorset MP, Oliver Letwin, said: "It's a ridiculous situation where the protection of one bit of heritage is putting other bits at risk."

Mr Letwin has called on English Heritage to allow the bridge to be replaced as previous works by the Environment Agency have not prevented the village flooding.

Historic asset

He said: "The bridge is a perfectly nice bridge, but it's not a great national monument.

"We're not going to get a really effective flood protection scheme unless this bridge is replaced."

Several homes in East Hill and West Hill areas of the village were also flooded during the recent heavy rainfall.

An English Heritage spokesman said: "We have been in discussions with the Environment Agency about a range of flood defence options for Charminster which would involve retaining the listed bridge over the River Cerne.

"This bridge has architectural and historical significance and any plans that would involve demolition would need careful consideration and justification."

The church is expected to be closed until April due to the damage caused by the flooding.

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