By Exclusive by Thursday 07 March 2013 Updated: 08/03 15:40
POLICE warned county council bosses about the high suicide rate at a Redditch bridge three years before the two most recent deaths there, it has emerged.
No action has been taken at the site over the Bromsgrove Highway which claimed the lives of Richard Need and Lee Laight within a month of each other last summer, despite a report sent by police to Worcestershire County Council in 2009 highlighting the worrying number of calls to the bridge and asking for additional safety measures to be put in place.
Figures uncovered by the Standard show a total of six people died at the site between April 2006 and October 2012, with a further five attempts and 32 threats within that time. It is known there has been at least one further incident at the site since.
Redditch District Insp Ian Joseph said: "Although it is unusual locally for any particular spot to be used on multiple occasions, the vulnerability of the footbridge over the Bromsgrove Highway to such incidents was recognised by us a few years ago.
"As a consequence we sent a report to Worcestershire County Council in 2009 highlighting this and suggesting measures which might deter those contemplating suicide there."
Coun Rebecca Blake, responsible for community safety on the borough council, said county council bosses had to answer why they had 'refused to take action on the bridge' despite the report which recommended the existing barriers should be replaced.
"It is a tragedy action has not been taken, given two people have since lost their lives at this spot," she added.
"Despite having written to county councillor David Thain requesting an investigation into the number of deaths at the bridge and asking him to look at preventative measures in light of police advice and national best practice, I have not had a reply.
"I urge the county council to change their mind urgently as I believe this is a matter of public safety."
But Coun Thain, who represents Redditch North on the county council, said he had responded to the query, adding a health and well being conference was being held later in the month to look at the 'wider issue' of suicide within Worcestershire.
He said engineers had advised him the bridge could not sustain the additional weight of caging around it.
A county council spokeswoman was unable to comment on whether or not they had responded to the police in 2009, instead reissuing a statement first sent to the Standard last September which said they had decided not to take action following discussions with the police and borough council as there was 'no guarantee that such caging would be effective'.
Signs advertising the Samaritans number have been installed by Redditch Borough Council on both sides of the bridge.
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