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Council u-turn on decision to remove anti-suicide notes from Chesterfield bridge

Council chiefs who removed anti-suicide notes from a Chesterfield bridge after classing them as ‘advertising’ have u-turned on the decision following an intervention by the Derbyshire Times.

The notes, which contained motivational quotes and links to suicide helplines, received ‘amazing feedback’ when they were attached to a footbridge over the A61 by Chesterfield woman Lauren Clifton.

Lauren, who previously contemplating taking her own life at the site, wanted to help others struggling with mental illness- but said it was a ‘kick in the teeth’ when she went to check on the notes and found they’d been taken away.

Lauren said: “I found out that the Council have taken them down because it’s classed as advertising. They’re not giving me permission to do it again.”

Derbyshire County Council confirmed the notes had been removed by Chesterfield Borough Council street cleaning operative as such banners and signs can fall under the umbrella of for-profit advertising.

They said that as the Highways Authority they ‘cannot allow’ any banners or notices to be attached to street furniture.

A happy outcome for Lauren Clifton.

A happy outcome for Lauren Clifton.

However, after being contacted by the Derbyshire Times, council bosses decided to restore the notes and are also in talks to install their own signs at the spot.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “We want to do all we can to prevent suicide.

“In partnership with other organisations we are about to look at the possibility of putting signs up in known locations with helpline numbers to hopefully stop anyone ending their life in this way.

“While we investigate the possibilities of this we are happy that the signs made by Lauren are put back on the bridge and thank her for taking the time to try and prevent suicide.”

Lauren said: “This is brilliant news, I’m so pleased. I’ll look forward to seeing the notes back on the bridge.”

The Samaritans are here round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No matter what you’re going through, you can call them for free on any phone on 116 123.

Chesterfield also has its own Samaritans branch at 121 Saltergate, open from 10am to 7pm seven days a week: https://www.samaritans.org/branches/chesterfield-samaritans.

Read our latest column about the Samaritans here: https://www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk/news/chesterfield-samaritans-volunteer-makes-plea-to-community-1-9354969