Archway Bridge safety net plan to end tragic suicides
PUBLISHED: 06:05 02 December 2010
CAMPAIGNERS have demanded a £95,000 safety net is hung under Archway Bridge to stop further suicides.
An engineering company has designed the pioneering net and says it would catch people trying to commit suicide without affecting the Grade II listed bridge that spans Archway Road in Highgate.
Community campaigners have championed the lifesaving technology following the death of three men at the infamous suicide spot in the last two months.
Highgate resident Sarah Cope, who has been campaigning on the issue, said “These deaths are not only extremely traumatic for the friends and family of the victims, but also to those who witness the incidents.
“This net would be a long-term solution to what is an ongoing – and worsening – problem.”
The crash net is the brainchild of Tectonic Global Ltd, specialists in industrial abseiling, and campaigners say a fully costed design is ready to implement.
It would be hung low enough beneath the 60 foot bridge so as not to cause fatal injuries if people jumped from it.
Crouch End resident Sue Hessel said: “The company say they can supply and fit the net for £95,000. I wonder how much it costs to close off the road each time these horrific incidents occur - plus the cost of the police time, the inquest, and the ongoing counselling required by the families of the victims?”
But similar campaigns for netting have proved unsuccessful in the past with Haringey Council, who maintain the bridge, saying “the scope for physical work on the Grade II listed structure is limited”.
A model for further anti-suicide measures was built and tested in 2005, but did not get approval from English Heritage which is charged with protecting the listed structure.
A close friend of 33-year-old father David Bennett - who died falling from Archway Bridge in October - called for the heritage body to think again.
He said: “English Heritage should be taken to task to justify their objections to previous safety measures that were proposed. Their objections were based on the fact that the bridge was listed, but the listing is hardly more valuable than the number of lives involved.”
But English Heritage said it would be willing to re-open talks with Haringey Council in light of the recent deaths.
A spokeswoman said: “This is a clear and very troubling issue and English Heritage would be more than happy to discuss options or proposals with the local authority. The installation of a spinning spiked top-rail prior to 2005 has clearly proved insufficient.
“Further anti-suicide measures were tested in 2005-6 by the council’s working group. However, this did not result in any proposal which could be considered formally by English Heritage. It is absolutely right that the various groups work together to look again for a solution to this awful problem.”
But money for the pioneering crash net may be tough to secure in the current climate of cuts.
A Haringey Council spokeswoman said: “Funding permitting, we are always willing to look at how we might help prevent suicides at the bridge.”
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