IN a dramatic U-turn, County Council chiefs have decided to look again at caging the footbridge over the Bromsgrove Highway after a man fell to his death there a week last Sunday (July 3).
In what has been hailed as a victory for the people of Redditch the move comes just one week after the Worcester-based office flatly refused to foot the estimated cost of £60,000 to enclose the walkway.
At a highly charged full council meeting at County Hall in Worcester yesterday, Thursday (July 14) Redditch County Councillor and borough Mayor Joe Baker (Lab, Arrow Valley East) read out an emotional letter from the bereaved family of another man who lost his life at the footbridge, which described how, had the bridge been caged, might have led to a different, happier outcome.
His address was met by a round of applause and it was agreed that a working group, including several Redditch councillors, would aim to swiftly find a safe solution for the bridge.
The bridge, known as Musketts Way, has been the scene of more than 43 incidents in the last ten years.
The resolution comes just a day after County leader Coun Simon Geraghty (Con, Worcs Riverside), who paid a site visit to the bridge, had written to the borough’s leader Coun Bill Hartnett (Lab, Church Hill) proposing a group be set up to deal with safety concerns.
It read: “In the light of the most recent event, and my site visit to the footbridge, I would like to suggest we agree between ourselves to set up a small, multi-agency, working group including relevant Cabinet members to review evidence and options again.
“This would include the police, the County Council, and the Borough Council. Since we have previous work to build on, we can be confident that this group would be able to report on options within three months.”
Coun Baker said: “I strongly believe we need to put more money into mental health care and prevention and aftercare, but it was agreed by the Council Leader that something should be done specifically about the bridge.
“This is a victory for the residents of Redditch and for those who have campaigned over the last ten years to make this bridge safe.”
It was also stipulated at the meeting that mental health group MHAG also be included in the working group.