Orwell Bridge safety concerns raised after 'worrying incidents'

Spring sunset on Friday March 18th around the Orwell Bridge. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Dr Dan Poulter is asking for more to be done with regards to safety on the Orwell Bridge - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A Suffolk MP is calling upon Highways England to install so-called suicide bars on the Orwell Bridge after a "number of worrying incidents".

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP, Dr Dan Poulter, who also co-chairs the Ipswich Transport Taskforce, is seeking to raise the issue within the group to establish what more can be done in respect of safety and improvements to the bridge. 

Since March 2021, Highways England has worked to replace the Samaritans signs on the approach to the bridge, installed four new phones and closed the lay-bys either side of the bridge.

Dr Poulter is now calling for more to be done, in particular he would like to see the installation of so-called suicide prevention barriers, which can be seen on the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol.

His comments come after the body of a 22-year-old man was found in the River Orwell last week. It was the second tragedy within the past few weeks, with the body of 17-year-old Aayush Desai, from Ipswich, found in the River Orwell in May.

On Sunday night a rolling road block was put in place following concerns for the safety of someone on the bridge.

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said he would undertake the unconscious bi

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, has raised concerns over the safety of the Orwell Bridge - Credit: Archant

Dr Poulter said: “Sadly in recent weeks, we’ve seen a number of worrying incidents in relation to the Orwell Bridge. Of course, any death from the Orwell Bridge is a huge tragedy and in the first instance, my thoughts go out to all those affected.

"As a practising NHS mental health doctor, it is widely accepted that many acts of self-harm, including attempts of suicide, can be impulsive in nature.

"Therefore, restricting access to commonly used methods can ultimately result in reductions in overall rates of suicide, as we have seen with the introduction of so-called suicide barriers on the Clifton suspension bridge.

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"Incidents on the Orwell Bridge sadly appear to be increasing and this is why I am calling now for works to be undertaken on the bridge to hopefully prevent future tragedies.”

If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123.

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