After the installation of temporary lights along a river path in Durham for Lumiere, a group of welfare officers have called for lighting to be installed there permanently as a safety measure.
The lights were installed along the river path between Prebends Bridge and Framwellgate Bridge, but have now been removed.
One student told Palatinate: “It was only when I was at Lumiere I realised how much easier travel at night would be if the river paths were lit”.
The group includes welfare officers from eleven colleges.
That river path, and others, are known to be dangerous. Three Durham students died either there or near Old Elvet in less than 18 months from 2013. An inquest in 2015 into the death of student Euan Coulthard noted that the path where he had fallen into the river, close to Framwellgate Bridge, was “not well illuminated beyond railings”.
Works were completed along certain stretches in 2015 to resurface part of the footpath and install new railings.
One issue the welfare officers note is possible concerns about a potential bat cluster close to Prebends Bridge which might be disturbed by the lighting. They have called for ‘inquiries’ into whether some lighting could still be installed without significantly harming the wildlife.
Kevin Lough, Durham County Council’s occupational health and safety manager, said: “We are a member of Durham’s City Safety Group which was established in 2015 to involve all city centre partners, including Durham University and Durham Students Union, to improve public safety following a series of river related incidents.
“Since 2015 the City Safety Group has made significant safety improvements to the footpath between Framwellgate and Prebends bridges, including installing safety barriers, resurfacing the footpath, improving drainage, and installing pedestrian signs indicating lit and unlit routes.
“We also introduced a ‘nightlights’ mapping network, which is a complete network of lit routes around the city centre. This included installing additional lighting on the opposite side of the river between Framwellgate and Prebends bridges to create a safe lit route within the city away from the river.”
“As the City Safety Group, we continue to keep this area under review and work with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to carry out annual safety assessments of the river corridor.”
Image: Durham University