Bridge chaos brings town to a standstill

Chaos on the swing bridge on Saturday
Chaos on the swing bridge on Saturday

Whitby swing bridge could be pedestrianised during major events after scuffles started to break out and people were in danger of being crushed as the town reached saturation point during Goth weekend.

Police had to be called on Saturday afternoon to deal with the sheer volume of people and vehicles crossing the bridge at the same time which caused complete gridlock.

Bouncers working at the Dolphin pub and a Goth who used to be a policeman stepped in to try and direct cars stuck on the bridge through the crowds.

Police closed the bridge, which has a 7.5 tonne weight limit, for two hours and re-directed traffic around town until early evening when crowds started to thin out.

Tina Bowling said: “The swing bridge was frightening at times which was a shame.”

Val Rowe added: “It was unfortunate that half term holiday, the Rohilla events and the Goth Festival coincided. Inappropriate parking on the outskirts of town was equally concerning as the swing bridge problem.

As a result, highways bosses have called a special meeting of the town’s Safety Advisory Group.

It looks at public safety for special events and will liaise with the police and fire and ambulance services.

Richard Marr, highways area manager said: “I don’t think it has been as busy as this before.

“It was half term week, there were the Goths, the Rohilla events and nice weather.

“Things get to a critical level, people lose their tempers, if people hear sirens they panic, the vulnerable could get crushed and it has got to a level where we need to get involved.”

He told the Gazette there are two options for managing big events such as Goth weekend and the Regatta in future.

One is to close the centre of the town to traffic from Thursday until the end of the weekend regardless of the amount of people and traffic, or the more likely option is a strategy which allows for an emergency closure if police deem necessary.

This means a plan drawn up between the council and police and specially made signage clearly setting out road closures and alternative arrangements.

Mr Marr added: “This would be my preferred option. Let’s have a plan in place and if police feel things are building up, they can let us know and we can shut roads in the proper organised way rather than waiting for this to happen again.

“It will end up being a police decision based on public safety.”