South West Wales

Concern over Briton Ferry M4 and A48 bridge fall deaths

Concerns have been raised about the number of people falling to their deaths at two neighbouring bridges in Neath Port Talbot.

One councillor said the number of deaths involving the A48 and M4 bridges at Briton Ferry was increasing.

A 20-year-old man died after falling from the A48 bridge in the early hours of New Year's Day.

Town and county councillor Hugh James said safety improvements such as higher barriers should be considered.

He said there had been several incidents in the past 18 months and he feared the frequency was increasing.

"We've had a few over the years but in the last 18 months or two years there's a pattern... with younger people on both bridges," he said.

"It's a concern for me as a local councillor and it seems to be on the increase."

In August, a 36-year-old man died after falling from the A48 bridge into the River Neath, while a 33-year-old man died in February.

There have been several incidents in previous years and Mr James said other tragedies had been prevented by the intervention of police.

He said it had been previously suggested that barbed wire or barriers could be erected as a safety measure.

As the bridges are part of the motorway and trunk road network, this would be the responsibility of the Welsh government.

He said other action that could be taken included putting signs on the bridges showing helpline numbers.

'Remove the stigma'

A Welsh government spokesperson said the bridge was similar to others in Wales.

He said: "The parapet height is such that accidental falls are extremely unlikely but sadly all bridges present an opportunity for suicides.

"Eliminating this risk would require a substantial amount of work in raising the parapet and strengthening the edge of the bridge.

"Our national action plan - Talk to Me - is designed to raise awareness of suicide and self-harm and encourage people to talk more about their problems to remove the stigma that is associated with emotional and mental health problems."

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