By Ian Dipple Friday 13 September 2013 Updated: 13/09 12:43
MEASURES to improve safety at a borough bridge where several people have lost their lives is being considered.
But any immediate action has been ruled out as county council bosses want to see if Samaritans signs placed near to the bridge over the Bromsgrove Highway work first before the proposals are considered further.
Worcestershire’s new Mental Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention Strategy includes two options for the bridge. One would see catch netting installed underneath to either deter people from jumping from it or catching them should they try to take their own life but there are concerns about such a move including its potential misuse.
Another measure would be to raise the height of the barriers – police suggested in 2009 installing a 2.4-metre high weldmesh fence – but the cost would be at least £60,000. Such a move would be a first in Worcestershire and officers are also worried about setting a precedent for other foot, road and rail bridges across the county.
But Sue Hanley, chair of the North Worcestershire Community Safety Partnership, said the group’s members had supported additional safety measures at the bridge and were requesting it took place now rather than waiting to see if the signs were effective.
She was supported by Supt Mark Travis from West Mercia Police who said such measures could be effective in preventing people at the severe end of the mental health scale from taking their own lives.
But Coun Marcus Hart, chairman of the board, said an audit group was being set up to monitor suicide rates and as the strategy was going out to public consultation there was a chance for people to comment and for the issue to be reconsidered when it was presented for final approval in January.
Between 2006 and 2012 six people lost their lives at the bridge with a further five attempts and 32 threats within that time.
Speaking after the meeting Ms Hanley said: “Whilst there is real disappointment there was no agreement to immediate additional preventative measures on the footbridge, the Partnership will continue to raise the profile of this matter to seek solutions to make the footbridge safe and secure.
“This issue will continue to be a major community safety priority, and partners will take every opportunity during the further consultation period to have this decision reconsidered.”
Coun Rebecca Blake, responsible for community safety on Redditch Borough Council, added: “We simply cannot wait as county have suggested to see how effective the advice signs will be. The county council should not need yet another tragedy in order to act, six deaths since 2006 is already six too many.”
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