South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge backs our Stop the Bridge Deaths campaign

James Cartlidge, South Suffolk MP

James Cartlidge, South Suffolk MP - Credit: Archant

South Suffolk’s MP has backed our campaign to prevent deaths from the Orwell Bridge after one man from Holbrook branded the crossing “a flawed structure”.

Stop the Bridge Deaths - an EADT and Ipswich Star campaign

Stop the Bridge Deaths - an EADT and Ipswich Star campaign - Credit: Archant

James Cartlidge wrote to Highways England earlier this year of behalf of constituent Ben Powell who was concerned at the lack of measures on the bridge to prevent people falling from it.

A reply, from Highways England director David Brewer, said it was “always saddened to learn of any suicide” and added a review of prevention measures was conducted last spring.

However the letter went on: “We do not believe the bridge as constructed is too easy to jump from. Pedestrians... are protected by 1.25metre high reinforced concrete parapets which are sufficiently high enough to prevent people from accidentally falling.”

Mr Brewer then went on to say adding nets below the parapets was not possible because the crossing is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

He also said adding fencing to the bridge might have weight implications on the structure, and added “less than 3% of suicides in the area” were related to the bridge.

The EADT launched the Stop the Bridge Deaths campaign after the inquest of Archie Hall, one of three people to fall from the bridge in a short period last winter.

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Mr Powell said: “I raised the issue as I have been personally aware of the increasing number of incidents on the bridge over the years and like many people you become accustomed and complacent to it as a regular event.

“The death of poor Archie Hall and within a few days another person made me question my assumption nothing could be done.”

“Yes the bridge is iconic however for many people who drive on it and under it, it’s a flawed structure in terms of its notoriety for suicides.”

In relation to Mr Brewer’s letter he added: “It did not inspire any confidence that anything meaningful was going to be done and in particular it was negative about encouraging anyone else to raise the issue.

“The letter even put a negative spin on the media reporting the issue.”

Mr Cartlidge said he welcomed any campaign looking to find a solution to the problem.

“I know that my colleagues Dr Therese Coffey MP and Ben Gummer MP are very active on this matter and I support their assessment that we cannot restrict all pedestrian access to the bridge.

“I would be very interested to hear more about the possibility for nets or CCTV and triggers to be applied to the bridge.

“Unfortunately, suicide will never be entirely avoidable. However where practical prevention solutions can be implemented we have a responsibility to do so.

“I welcome the East Anglian Daily Times’ campaign and hope that it will identify such solutions.”

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