PROSECUTIONS for a Lorry Watch scheme which protects Bradford on Avon’s ancient Town Bridge from use by overweight vehicles appear to have almost ground to a halt.

It is understood that since Wiltshire Police took over handling data returns from the team of 12 trained volunteers not one vehicle owner or driver has appeared in court this year - although volunteers have this week 'signed off' five reports for prosecution.

The Lorry Watch scheme was set up in 2011 to combat drivers and vehicle owners breaching the 18-tonne weight limit on the Grade 1 listed Town Bridge, parts of which date from the 13th century.

The bridge and lock-up is a significant example of a medieval multi-span bridge, of which less than 200 examples survive in England.

Gordon Finch, 83, one of the Lorry Watch volunteers, said they "could not understand" why the police were not prosecuting drivers.

"We give them figures every week but we don't hear back from the police. We can never understand why drivers and owners don't get prosecuted on the first go."

Town councillors are also concerned about the deteriorating situation in relation to enforcement.

Cllr Dominic Newton said: “The Lorry Watch team has seen a drop off in morale because enforcement by police has dropped off since the prosecution was passed over to the police.”

Between October 2016 and March 2017, 98 sessions took place and 73,747 vehicles were observed crossing the Town Bridge. Of these, 129 were overweight, which resulted in 95 letters being sent out.

Leanne Homewood, who co-ordinates the Lorry Watch scheme for Wiltshire Police, was this week on annual leave and unavailable for comment.

But Bradford on Avon Lorry Watch co-ordinator Stephanie Ridout said: “I think it’s pretty public knowledge that prosecutions have halted since the police took over, as it’s been raised at many council meetings.

“Lorry Watch continues to keep a keen eye on the passing traffic in the town, and the sterling work, in all weathers, is a credit to all volunteers.

“In the past year we have had a few additions, and a few leavers, but all in all, the information collated proves to be useful and I’m sure it will continue throughout the coming year.

“The kind words of encouragement that locals give to the volunteers, is always gratefully received and the town obviously values the efforts of everyone involved.”