It was a bridge attack too far for residents who have had enough of the anti-social behaviour that has blighted an area of Spalding for too many years.
They have called on the Spalding Guardian to launch a campaign on their behalf calling on Network Rail to improve lighting and introduce CCTV on Stepping Stones Bridge.
A mindless act and saddening that people feel the need to do this after all the hard work involved in the artworkLouise Yarnell, headteacher of St Norbert’s School
It took less than two weeks for mindless vandals to destroy precious artwork on the bridge that was inspired by children and aimed to make it a more pleasant environment for users.
Many – including the Network Rail approved artist Peter Barber – were not surprised. He said: “Everyone I spoke to was very positive about what I was doing but said it wouldn’t last.”
Louise Yarnell, headteacher of St Norbert’s School, whose pupils inspired the work, described it as “a mindless act and saddening that people feel the need to do this after all the hard work involved in the artwork”.
But now concerns have grown not only about the mindless acts of vandalism but also for the general safety of the people who use the bridge.
The subject came up at last week’s meeting of Spalding Town Forum, when Insp Jim Tyner expressed concerns of lack of visibility for residents approaching the bridge from Park Road. There was also a call from members for better lighting to make the area safer.
Gillian Overton crosses the bridge regularly to travel to and from work at John Lewis in Peterborough by train and bus.
She was first to email the Spalding Guardian when she saw the graffiti and said: “I walked over the newly painted bridge this morning and guess what? It has been vandalised. It needs CCTV up there to catch the vandals and for the protection of the public as it’s not a nice area to walk over in the dark.”
The next day, she said she was walking from Park Road over the bridge at 9am and there was more graffiti and two foreign youths with a bottle of gin and tins of coke. She said: “I said ‘it’s a bit early for that’ and their reply was ‘it’s Saturday’.
“Local residents want a CCTV camera, litter bins on both sides and regular police checks as I do believe drugs are also being passed on up there. Will it cost a life before anything is done, because that’s what will be next? We need to campaign for something to be done.”
South Holland Coun Roger Gambba-Jones has expressed similar concerns on many occasions. He said: “I’m both angry and saddened to see the good efforts of Network Rail despoiled in this way.
“I hope the company will deal with this quickly, as a way of demonstrating their refusal to be intimidated and ongoing commitment to our town.
“I would also suggest that they revisit my ongoing concerns about the lack of visibility of and for those using and abusing the bridge, because of its poor design.
“Law-abiding people continue to avoid the bridge, during the hours of darkness, because they feel isolated and unsafe on the enclosed and badly lit walkway.”
A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “We are very disappointed that this beautiful artwork on the Stepping Stones bridge has been defaced, and so soon after being unveiled.
“We know that the schoolchildren at St Norbert’s Primary School, who came up with the designs, will be saddened to see their good work so disrespected in this way.
“We will make sure that the bridge is cleaned and we hope that it stays that way and that whoever did this will leave it alone in future.”
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