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Ipswich: Support for extra safety measures on Orwell Bridge as death of man sees fatality toll rise to 40

PUBLISHED: 16:20 03 April 2014 | UPDATED: 16:20 03 April 2014

The Orwell Bridge.

The Orwell Bridge.

(c) copyright citizenside.com

A Suffolk MP has today made clear the need for extra safety measures to be installed on the Orwell Bridge as it was confirmed a man had died after falling from the structure this week – the 40th fatality since the bridge opened.

Coastguard teams and a rescue helicopter were sent to the scene, near Ipswich, at about 11.30am on Tuesday after a police officer and a motorist reported seeing a man climbing on to the parapet before “going out of view”.

The man’s body was located by the Holbrook coastguard team and was airlifted to hospital, but it is understood he was pronounced dead on the scene.

The tragedy has once again brought up the question of what more can be done to prevent similar incidents and protect vulnerable people.

Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, said that this particular issue was raised at the Orwell Bridge Summit, which she organised along with Ipswich MP Ben Gummer.

She added: “It is important that we seek best practice from other crossings like the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

“This may involve anti-climb barriers, CCTV or sensors that trigger an alarm. I am writing a joint letter with Ben Gummer to the Highways Agency to see what can be done.”

The bridge was first opened in 1982 and its walls are 1.25metres high, which is deemed sufficient to prevent people accidentally falling.

Samaritan phones are also provided on approaches to the bridge for people in need of confidential emotional support.

Two people have died this year after falling off the bridge but police have been called at least five times after it has been reported seeing people on the parapet.

Deaths from the structure have always provoked emotion and divided opinion on whether or not more security measures need to be put in place.

In a comment to this newspaper, one reader wrote: “At some point something needs to be done about this.”

But another added: “You cannot clothe the world in cotton wool.”

Suffolk police confirmed the death yesterday although they said no formal identification had yet taken place.

A spokeswoman for the constabulary said: “The matter will now be referred to the coroner and no further details will be released.”

The Highways Agency was not able to provide a comment on the incident or the letter being written by Dr Coffey and Mr Gummer.

If you need help, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. All calls are confidential.

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