Councillor not allowed to speak about bridge deaths at meeting

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 14 March 2014 Updated: 14/03 10:46

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A CONCERNED councillor was blocked from speaking about a site where nearly 50 people have threatened to commit suicide at a health meeting.

Coun Graham Vickery, whose Redditch North ward includes the Bromsgrove Highway bridge where there have been six deaths and a further 41 incidents since 2006, asked to bring up the issue at a meeting of Worcestershire’s Health and Wellbeing board on Tuesday (March 11).

But he claims the chairman Coun Marcus Hart refused him permission to speak.

After the meeting, Coun Vickery said it was extremely important to update the board on the latest situation - which has seen a further incident happen at the site at the end of February - and find out what impact this would have on the review period of 12 months which was announced when the committee decided to take no action and monitor the site in January.

He added: “This review period is a strategy for the county council to avoid spending money on erecting defensive barriers across the bridge to prevent incidents happening in the first place and incurring dreadful harm and trauma to users of the bridge and road users below.

“Despite publication of a suicide prevention strategy and ignoring nationwide best practice, pleas from the police, Redditch and Bromsgrove councils and local doctors’ Clinical Commissioning Group, the county council does nothing.

“Why does Coun Hart want to stop discussion? Why does he take no action? Is he waiting for more deaths?”

Coun Hart said it had been decided in January to report progress within the next 12 months and they were working actively with partners like the police and mental health support providers to set up new lines of reporting through a new suicide audit group.

“I am mindful of the sensitivity of this issue and for the privacy of family members and individuals am not able to discuss individual cases.

“This is a sensitive and important issue and I am not going to get involved in a political exchange about an issue as serious as this.”

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