Kim Appleby

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Views wanted on footbridge plans to stop ‘tombstoning’

The height of the bridge guardrail could be increased to 2.4m to deter ‘tombstoning’

New safety measures could be put in place to prevent people jumping into the River Wharfe from the suspension (swing) bridge on Denton Road, Ilkley.

A planning application has been submitted to Bradford Council’s planning department to increase the height of the guardrail to 2.4 metres.

Last summer temporary barriers were installed on the bridge but were vandalised and at least one person was seriously injured due to the shallowness of the water during the dry periods.

Following escalating anti-social behaviour over a number of years and large numbers descending on the area in hot weather, Bradford Council implemented a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for the Ilkley riverside area. Prohibitions would relate to offensive anti-social behaviour and includes jumping off the bridge.

Bradford Council appointed Royal Lifesaving Society United Kingdom (RLSS UK) to review and make recommendations. As well as recommending “this area should be fenced more effectively to prevent ease of access to deeper and moving water”, RLSS UK also recommended “the bridge be ‘netted’ to prevent ‘jumpers’ accessing the outer rail. Each end of the bridge should also have access denial measures to prevent ‘jumpers from traversing the outer rail from the bank-sides’”.

In a report to the Regulations and Appeals Committee last year it was said: “Ilkley riverside attracts many visitors, especially during periods of warm weather. A minority of visitors have engaged in behaviours that and sometimes threaten and intimidate other visitors. This includes: abuse of alcohol and/or drugs, excessive noise, using foul or abusive language, threatening behaviour or violence and littering.

“Jumping off the footbridge has become a common occurrence, especially in periods of hot weather. The shallow water around the bridge puts those who do jump off at risk of injury.

This has caused Bradford Council to have to close the footbridge, on occasions, causing significant inconvenience to both local residents and visitors, as well as a drain on Police and Council resources to enforce the closure”.

The full planning application can be viewed and comments made on the council planning portal website, the direct link to the application is: https://planning.bradford.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=R8S6QWDHI1V00&activeTab=summary

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