Aberdeen councillors have expressed their hope a bridge-lighting project will stop people attempting to take their lives at a city centre site.
Aberdeen City Council’s city growth and resources committee has agreed to spend £68,000 of Scottish Government cash improving Union Street, including installing “creative lighting” on Union Bridge.
One aim, according to a council report, is for the lighting to “amplify the area’s vibrant atmosphere” and “draw people in to admire the bridge’s character and heritage”.
At Thursday’s meeting of the committee, Councillor Stephen Flynn said: “As part of the refurbishment of Union Terrace Gardens, there is going to be a (permanent) safety barrier put in place (on the bridge).
“We’re putting that barrier in place to try to limit the possibility of suicide at that location. Unfortunately, we know it happens all too often. Will highlighting the bridge not be counterproductive?”
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A council officer replied: “Through previous studies it has been noted that increasing lighting and numbers of people in an area deters people from making that decision and it also increases the chance of intervention as well.”
Councillor Sarah Duncan said: “I’m particularly keen that we support the project for the lighting on Union Bridge, not just for the aesthetics of it but, as Councillor Flynn said, there is a public health and safety risk there.
“Very sadly it has become a bit of a magnet for people who are in crisis and we need to take urgent and effective measures to remove the incentive for people to go to Union Bridge when they are at the lowest point of their lives.
“This funding offers us the chance to do that.”
According to the report, the project could create opportunities to do more work at the bridge to help people in crisis.
It said: “Additional measures could be put in place around the bridge, with each of these measures impacting the goal of suicide reduction in different ways.”
This could include an “increased opportunity for human intervention, such as the installation of CCTV and alarms there and a taxi watch scheme so drivers can look out for people in crisis”.
Signs with helpline numbers could be put up at the bridge, the report said.
It added: “Redeveloped Union Terrace Gardens will change the atmosphere and footfall in the area.
“This is because benches will be installed and a bus stop will mean more people will be in the area.”
The committee also approved plans to spend £80,000 on creating mini parks on Huntly Street and Castlegate and £90,000 on sprucing up an underpass on Hayton Road.
A £400,000 proposal to install suspended signs marking city centre streets was also approved along with £125,000 on installing 3,000 hi-tech street lights.
The committee also gave the go-ahead to spending £390,000 on a new boiler for Mither Kirk as well as £60,000 for a “living wall” of plants on Flourmill Lane.
Council officers will now work with partners, such as Aberdeen Inspired, to draw up more detail for the projects.