Warring councillors delay ‘Suicide Bridge’ changes

Credit to Maciek 1955

A suicide hotspot remains untouched six months after bereaved families were promised changes by authorities, Islington Now has learnt.

Haringey and Islington engaged in an underhand blame game as sources from each council told this news site the other side was to blame.

A campaign to build anti-suicide structures on the bridge, which falls on the border of Islington and Haringey, has been in place since 2010 when three suicides occurred in three weeks.

The bodies involved argue it is only a matter of time before changes are made but an anonymous Islington councillor has said delays are due to opposition from two Haringey councillors who do not want to change the listed structure.

The source said: “We talked about it in our leadership meeting – Jeremy Corbyn is very involved – there’s a massive gung-ho for it.

“It seems the delay has purely come from Haringey – we should just get on with it. Why can’t it just happen?”

However Haringey Council suggested it was their Islington counterparts holding up proceedings.

A Haringey spokesman said: “After a long delay on Islington’s side (we were awaiting the go-ahead from their conservation officer, which has taken months) – we have now asked TFL to put in an application for listed building consent.

“Because of the heritage of the site, both we and Islington need to give formal consent to works to install the safety measures. Hopefully this will happen as quickly as possible. Us, English Heritage and TfL are all behind the scheme and want to see it happen as soon as possible.”

Photo courtesy of Stephen Curtis
Photo courtesy of Stephen Curtis

Jonathan Culverwell, from Highgate, was 31 and suffered from paranoid schizophrenia when he jumped from the bridge to his death on 7 June last year.

Since then two others have tragically committed suicide at the same spot.

Jonathan’s family blame the Council for the ongoing tragedies.

His sister, Tasharna Averill, said: “They have no sympathy for any of the families. Now they won’t even allow people to put flowers down because it’s drawing attention from the media.”

Jonathan’s mother, Ceidre Culverwell, told Islington Now: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting the Council is withholding money and not doing anything; it’s just allowing people to go ahead and jump.

“People are tired of seeing bodies – there’s a school nearby. Those things happening are so upsetting for the children too.”

Ms Culverwell circulated a petition in the local area in support of the changes.

“We know loads of people signed the petition – [the Council] is still not doing anything about it. What is it going to take – one of their own? How many more people have to actually jump before they can wake up? There’s a mother or a friend at the end of every tragedy.”

Despite promising last year to put anti-suicide measures in place, Haringey Council has yet to send finalised proposals to English Heritage, who must authorise any changes to the site.

The Council has previously said it appreciates the “sense of urgency for a solution to be agreed” but have failed to produce any results since meeting with English Heritage in July.

Haringey Councillor John Bevan has suggested work might not commence on the bridge until 2015, but Alasdair Young, from English Heritage, admitted he did not know why this was.

Mr Young told Islington Now he had not received “anything” from the council to date.

He said: “I haven’t received anything yet… we’re content with the principles – we’re just waiting for an application with added details.

Since speaking to Islington Now about the status of the application, Mr Young contacted Haringey Council for an update: “As I understand it, Transport for London are preparing to submit an application in the very near future. English Heritage will then be consulted and we will provide our formal comments.”