19th Sep, 2019

An apology and offer to help after messages of hope are taken down

Harry Leach 12th Aug, 2018

A LOCAL woman says she has has been left heartbroken after more than 150 messages of hope were taken down from a bridge in Redditch.

Katie Houghton with the help of others, spent hours on Saturday morning attaching colourful notes which filled the entire length of the platform.

But by Wednesday the notes, which contained inspirational quotes like ‘life is magical’ and ‘you are amazing’, had been taken down by Worcestershire County Council.

The council said it had a legal duty to act to avoid distractions for drivers using the highway.

There had also been a complaint from a member of the public saying the notes were distressing.

Katie said the aim was to reach out to people in their darkest moments and make them think twice about the act they might commit.

“I spent two months organising this and spoke to people who have lost family to the bridge and more.

“If my actions saved just one life then it would have been worth it.

“I’m absolutely fuming and think the council have an extremely blinkered view of the situation.”

Mrs Houghton has since set up a petition to change the council’s decision and have the notes reinstated.

It has reached more than 2,300 signatures in just two days.

The council has also apologised to Katie for any distress caused.

A spokesperson for Worcestershire County Council said: “We regret if the removal of posters from a bridge in Redditch has caused some distress but we have the legal responsibility to keep our highways safe.

“We take down unauthorised roadside distractions to reduce the risk of accidents on our roads.

“We have kept the messages and we hope to meet with Ms Houghton to discuss if there is a way that we can use the messages in any future mental health campaigns.”

Redditch MP Rachel Maclean said: “I’m pleased Worcestershire County Council has apologised to Katie Houghton and residents for the insensitive and inconsiderate way the messages of hope were removed.

“When I heard what had happened, I raised concerns immediately, and along with my Councillor colleagues, we have made sure people’s feelings on this issue are known to the County Council.

“I’ve also made contact with Katie to let her know that I understand she has the best of intentions. I’m glad the County Council has offered to work with Katie on a future mental health campaign.

“Anyone in need of help and support should call the Samaritans on 116 123.”

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