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Fear of falling? Then don't cross the new bridge, say worried residents
Updated 9:15am Friday 4th April 2014 in News
FEARS people could fall over new fencing on Evesham's Abbey Bridge and down onto the ground or into the water below have been dismissed by council officials who say the work meets all safety standards.
Concerns over the safety of the railings at the side of the bridge have been raised by a number of local people who think the height of the metal fencing, which prevents people falling off the bridge and viaduct onto the Crown Meadow, is too low.
The worries emerged last week before a metal mesh was put onto the parallel metal fencing but the height still remains a concern.
Great-grandmother Patricia Dyke, from Pershore, said she was amazed the "tatty structure" was given planning permission and felt the approach to the bridge from Evesham town centre was unsafe for people on foot as it would be easy for people to fall over a barrier of about 4 ft high, which replaced the high railings.
"What if someone had a fit or was drunk they could fall over the top of it," said the 64-year-old. "I wouldn't go near it because I am clumsy. It's scary to me. I am not going to walk across the bridge. I hope it doesn't take a tragedy for this to be recognised."
Emma Nishigaki said she was worried the railings were too low.
"If you take the height from foot level there some as low as 90cms," she said. "They are at no point any higher than 1.1 metres. The big issue to start off with was the horizontal bars. They are putting the metal mesh on this, it's obviously an after thought. It is still of a height that a child can lever themselves up very easily."
Other comments made on Twitter included people being afraid someone could be pushed over the railings, while an email send to the Journal said they feared Saturday night revellers would test the height of the railings.
But Worcestershire County Council reassured residents the work complied with health and safety standards.
A spokesman said: "The completed works to the Abbey Road Bridge and viaduct comply with all the necessary health and safety standards and as such, fulfils all legal requirements expected.
"The parapet fence on the viaduct has been designed to meet these standards both in terms of vehicle and pedestrian safety. The installed stainless steel mesh is in accordance with that safety system."
Contractors Hochtief added: "We can confirm that the stainless steel mesh has always been part of the original design for Abbey Bridge. Upon its opening on 10 March 2014, the mesh was not required as only cars were using the bridge and the viaduct.
"The mesh was only installed prior to the opening of the footpath to the public. We must stress that the un-meshed areas weren't open to pedestrians prior to this installation.
"Furthermore, the parapet fencing is acting as a restraint system to cars, as well as a hand rail for pedestrians.
"Posts and rails had to be installed before the bridge opened to traffic on 10 March 2014 as this provided edge protection for all vehicles. In any case, the structures comply with the highest safety standards."
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