POLITICAL momentum is building behind efforts to end a 10-year campaign to reopen Carlisle’s Waverley Viaduct as a public walkway.

Both Conservative and Labour city councillors are putting their weight behind the project in a bid to get it over the line before crucial funds are lost.

The Carlisle Waverley Viaduct Trust (CWVT) has long campaigned to bring the viaduct - which crosses the River Eden in the north of the city - back into public use.

It cleared a critical hurdle when city planners granted permission for the construction of the walkway, and has secured £100,000 of the estimated £325,000 needed.

But in order to raise the final capital, a footpath creation order is first needed - the process for which opens the potential for legal challenge.

Campaigners are now hopeful that cross-party council support will help them get past this final stumbling block.

Carlisle City Council’s new Conservative leader John Mallinson has asked officers to draw up an options paper, which will be discussed at the September meeting of the authority’s executive.

Meanwhile Labour’s Les Tickner, who was deputy leader until the local election in May, has put forward a motion to the next full council meeting, calling for members to help the trust secure the required legislation as quickly as possible.

David Ramshaw, one of the CWVT directors, said that after 10 years, they are close to seeing the route reopen - but they need council support.

“We are really hoping for a cross party agreement on this,” he said.

Mr Mallinson has today given his public backing to the Waverley project, and said he is optimistic the council can help it take the final step.

“Reopening the bridge as a footpath, and hopefully eventually a cycleway, will be a great advantage for the city.

“It would create another route across the Eden and link in with other walking routes.

“The Borderlands vision includes walking and cycling routes and there is a commitment to a low carbon Carlisle, so it all fits,” he said.

“Since we took control of the council in May, I have met with the trust. The stumbling block in trying to move it forward has been the footpath creation orders.

“What I’ve decided to do is to see if the council can help with this. I’ve asked officers to come up with an options paper which I hope will go to the September executive meeting.

“We want to see if we can help them get this on the move again.”

Mr Tickner said Labour also had its own plan to help push the project forward, by setting aside up to £30,000 contingency fund to underwrite any challenges to the footpath order and potential compensation payouts.

However he said he did not want the Waverley scheme to become the victim of party politics.

Instead Mr Tickner said he would be happy to work with the Conservatives, but said time was a key issue.

His motion to full council calls for the necessary footpath creation orders to be produced by the end of September.

“I feel we need a date on it. I will speak to John and see if we can find a way to move this forward that we both agree on.

“I just want to see a commitment to make it happen. If he can give me that reassurance, I will withdraw the motion.”

Mr Mallinson said he would be willing to talk to Mr Tickner.

News of a potential cross-party agreement has been well received by campaigners, who are desperate to get work underway at the viaduct.

Mr Ramshaw said the money they have secured to date is reliant on match funding from elsewhere.

And although they have had positive conversations with potential funders, including the lottery, they cannot apply for these grants until the footpath order is in place.

“Funding was going to run out next year, that’s why we’ve been pushing and pushing.

“We’ve managed to secure an extension but need contractors on site before it runs out,” he said.

“We’ve got letters of support from all over the place. So many people want it to happen.”