‘Blackout’ on bridge raises concerns for public safety

Lights and gates ... Cllr Annabella Ashby and Cllr Stephen Catlin at the footbridge over the railway line
Lights and gates ... Cllr Annabella Ashby and Cllr Stephen Catlin at the footbridge over the railway line

Concerns about a ‘bridge blackout’ in Lewes were raised this week.

Local councillors feared for public safety after the 12 lights failed on the bridge over the railway line linking Sussex Downs College with the Railway Land Nature Reserve.

Cllr Stephen Catlin said: “Having this bridge in darkness is putting people at risk. There have been reports of anti-social behaviour in the area.

“Why should the public be put in fear when it wants to cross the bridge?”

Cllr Annabella Ashby drew attention to the fact that the gates at the college end of the footbridge are not being locked.

But a sign there states that the bridge may only be used between 8am and 9.30pm Monday to Friday during college term time and between 8am and 6.30pm out of term time, weekends and Bank Holidays when Lewes Leisure Centre is open.

The sign says the gates will be locked at all other times.

Cllr Ashby said: “They are not being locked. If the gates are open the footbridge lights need to be on simply for public safety.

“The bridge is being inconsistently managed.”

The concerns have led to an investigation by East Sussex County Council.

A spokesman said: “The lights along the footbridge operate on a sensor, which turns them on when it gets dark and off when the light reaches a set level in the morning. They are not switched off.

“While East Sussex County Council is responsible for the maintenance of the lights, the power supply comes from South Downs College.

“We have been informed that all lights are now working but, as a precautionary measure, have arranged for our electricians to check the lights and supply.

“It is unclear who has responsibility for locking the gates, although they have not been locked or used for a number of years. We are currently looking into the history of the bridge and agreements in place to find out where this responsibility lies, and whether it is necessary to retain the gates.”