By Harriet Ernstsons 24/08 Updated: 24/08 09:57
COUNCILLORS and police have stepped in to look at ways safety could be improved at a Redditch bridge where two men died in under a month.
Redditch Borough Council, West Mercia Police and Worcestershire County Council representatives will meet today (Friday) to discuss the deaths at the Bromsgrove Highway.
It comes after calls from residents, including an online petition set up by student mental health nurse Rosa Tarry and a Facebook group with 1,500 members, for the bridge near Headless Cross to be caged in following the deaths of Richard Need, 46, on July 9 and Lee Laight, 45, on August 8.
MP Karen Lumley, who is also hoping to attend the meeting, said something needed to be done.
“It is just a question of listening to what the professionals are going to tell us.
“I’m not sure if it is just a case of funding. I want to make sure it doesn’t happen again so if that means we have to put something on the bridges then we obviously need funding to do that but I think we should wait and see how they think we should go forward.”
Coun Rebecca Blake, Redditch Borough Council’s portfolio holder for community safety, said while highways were not the direct responsibility of the authority, the issue was ‘really high on the agenda’.
“I am very clear we sadly won’t be able to prevent all suicides but what I do want to do is respond when we know places are significant locations people are thinking about when they have this on their mind.
“We can’t pro-actively safeguard every potential spot but when it is brought to our attention, the people who are responsible do need to take this very seriously.
“From a community safety point of view, the Bromsgrove Highway is a really busy road so as well as the safety of people who are vulnerable we also need to think about what it means for those using the road.”
Rosa Tarry, who studies at Worcester University but was originally from the St George’s area of Redditch, set up an online petition as part of the campaign by residents for changes at the bridge.
But residents are also calling on mental health funding to be increased and numbers for support services such as the Samaritans to be displayed more prominently in areas such as the bridge.
Rosa told the Standard: “We obviously want the bridge caged to prevent any potentially rash decisions being made there but we also need to look at prevention and mental health awareness in Redditch.
“It’s very difficult as there is a lack of support and the whole attitude towards suicide needs to change.
“Especially for men, it’s really difficult to admit you are struggling let alone thinking about ending your own life, but we need to let people know that’s not the only way.”
Nationally almost £30 million has been cut from the mental health services budget, although Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust would not confirm how much they were required to save.
A spokeswoman said: “The safe delivery of high quality health and care services remains the priority for the trust and we will ensure any reduction in cost will not impact on the quality of frontline services for patients and service users.”
Visit www.thepetitionsite.com/m/634/950/081/cage-the-bromsgrove-highway-suicide-bridge to sign the petition.
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