THERE are calls for a new weir bridge to be named after a councillor who has spent years fighting for it.

But Muscliff and Throop ward councillor Ron Whittaker, who campaigned for a new footbridge with local residents, said he would much rather the structure continues to be known as the weir bridge.

Cllr Whittaker, who says he is not likely to stand for re-election after more than 40 years on the council, said: “It’s a nice gesture, but it’s not for me.

“It is easily identified as the weir bridge, so I think it should stay as that.

“When people go for a walk they say: ‘We’ll go over the weir bridge’, and if we change that to the Whittaker bridge, no one will have a clue what it refers to.”

The main weir bridge near historic Throop Mill has provided the only pedestrian access across the river from Muscliff and Throop for more than half a century.

As it began to rot and wear down, Dorset County Council erected a temporary structure while the bridge was being demolished and replaced by a new crossing, which will cost more than £400,000.

Cllr Whittaker said he has spoken to other councillors and residents who say the bridge should take his name.

Former councillor Philip Whitelegg has led the calls, saying in a letter to the Daily Echo: “It would surely be an appropriate mark of recognition to the continuous efforts waged by Cllr Whittaker to name the new bridge ‘Whittaker Bridge’.

“It’s a lovely thought, and I’m very grateful, but I don’t think it’s quite right for me. I’ve achieved what I set out to do and that’s enough.”

However, the councillor said he would be happy to have a room named after him in Throop Mill itself if the council were able to buy the building from Northampton-based Heygates.

The owners of the mill, which stopped working in 1972, have told Cllr Whittaker they will sell it for £500,000 in order for it to be turned into a visitor attraction and museum.

“Before I step down, I would dearly love to see that dream come to life,” Cllr Whittaker said.

“But Heygates will not get £500,000 for Throop Mill.”