Safety work plans for a historic bridge on the edge of Halifax town centre have been given the go-ahead by planners at Calderdale Council.
Proposals for the provision of anti-climb mesh and steeple coping to the parapet on on North Bridge have been approved by the planning department.
The move to install the safety work come as a result of three deaths due to falls on the bridge between April 2017 and January 2018.
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Following the first inquest into a death which occurred during this period, the coroner requested a regulation report Action to Prevent Further Deaths from Calderdale Council in which the following matters of concern and action required where noted.
The coroner called for the Council to urgently review and consider the appropriateness of protective safety measures on the bridge in order to prevent further like fatalities.
He also asked the authority to urgently consider the implementation of immediate measures and in his opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and believed Calderdale Council had the power to take such action.
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Calderdale Council began a feasibility study to identify options to prevent further suicides at North Bridge in February 2018 and was completed in July 2018.
A report was submitted to Calderdale Council’s Cabinet on July 30, 2018, outlining the option to provide anti-climb mesh and a steeple coping to the parapets of North Bridge.
The scheme will require drilling of the existing cast iron parapet to allow fixing of the support rails for the anti-climb mesh and steeple coping.
This support steelwork and the steel steeple coping will be painted to match the existing maroon colour of the parapets.
The 25mm x 25mm anti-climb mesh will be galvanised and therefore be grey in colour allowing the existing parapet colour and details to be viewed through it..
The mesh will be removable to allow repainting and maintenance of the original cast iron parapet.
The steeple coping will cover the existing castellated top of the parapet to prevent climbing of the parapet but the original detail will remain beneath this covering.
The external appearance of the bridge parapet will remain untouched apart from the covering of the existing castellated parapet top with the new steeple coping, allowing the public to see the detail of the decorative embellishments to the parapet.
North Bridge was constructed in 1871. The bridge was strengthened in 1991 with the replacement of the central cast iron arch ribs with modern steel arches.
The outer cast iron ribs including the decorative parapets were retained to maintain the character of the Grade 2 listed structure.
In the planning report is stated that the existing parapet is 1500mm at its maximum, when the bridge was constructed in 1871 there were no standards for the heights and type of parapets to be provided.
Whilst the existing parapet dos not meet modern standards in respect of climability the height exceeds what would be provided today and until recently has served its function of preventing falls from the bridge.