LEGAL action will again be taken against BCP Council over its fiercely debated decision to reopen an underpass bridge to motor traffic.

National organisation Cycling UK has issued court proceedings against the council after it stood by its move to reopen Keyhole Bridge in Poole Park, which the charity says was “unlawful”.

BCP Council had to reopen a public consultation on whether the bridge should be closed to motor vehicles following a ruling by a High Court judge who ruled the authority had unlawfully curtailed the initial consultation.

Of the 791 respondents in the extended consultation, 65 per cent agreed Keyhole Bridge should be closed permanently with 35 per cent disagreeing.

Despite this, cabinet members unanimously agreed the narrow road should remain open.

Bournemouth Echo: The closure of Keyhole Bridge near Poole Park.The closure of Keyhole Bridge near Poole Park.

Cycling UK now says BCP Council will be unable to avoid another “expensive court case” as it argues the council has failed to have appropriate regard for statutory guidance issued to highway authorities under the Network Management Act 2004.

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said: “[We] gave BCP Council the chance to avoid an expensive court case, but it has failed to answer the questions we and residents have raised, and hasn’t been able to explain or show how it took account of the statutory guidance.

“The council has ignored the guidance all councils are required to follow, despite having already lost one judicial review on Keyhole Bridge, costing it a great deal of time, money, and credibility.”

Among the reasons the council elected to reopen the bridge was based on its assessment that the closure would create delays of around three minutes at peak times, resulting in an economic cost of £220,000 per year.

Bournemouth Echo: Van tries to get through Keyhole Bridge.Van tries to get through Keyhole Bridge.

That assessment, however, is disputed in a report authorised by independent experts KMC Transport Planning – which said pedestrianisation of the underpass would provide a positive financial impact of £8.5m over a 20-year period.

In any event, the controversial closure is set for its second legal challenge in as many years.

Rowan Smith of Leigh Day Solicitors said: “Statutory guidance says that schemes such as the closure of Keyhole Bridge to motor vehicles should be retained unless there is substantial evidence to the contrary.

“Cycling UK will argue that the statutory guidance was unlawfully interpreted when councillors made their decision. We are confident that the court will agree and allow Cycling UK’s claim for judicial review.”

BCP Council said it was unable to comment.