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Residents’ clear undergrowth on bridge where hospital worker was attacked

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Residents took matters into their own hands and in a six-hour stint cleared bushes and branches from a Peterborough bridge where an NHS worker walking home was attacked.

Nigel Holland said he had been warning for weeks that the bridge posed a safety risk for pedestrians, but no action was taken.

Only after his wife, a Peterborough City Hospital worker, told him a co-worker had been attacked by someone hiding in the bushes, did he decide immediate action was needed.

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Volunteers cut back bushes at Peterborough bridge where NHS worker was attacked. PICTURE: Terry Harris

North West Anglia NHS Trust issued a safety notice to all its staff following the attack.

“We are sad to share with you that a staff member has been assaulted on their way home from work, shortly after leaving the Peterborough City Hospital site,” it told staff.

“The incident happened on the approach to the pedestrian bridge to Bretton and the police were contacted.

Volunteers cut back bushes at Peterborough bridge where NHS worker was attacked. PICTURE: Terry Harris

“The victim suffered serious injuries and is recovering at home.”

The statement added: “As evenings start to draw in and mornings become darked, please ensure you remain mindful of the space and activity around you when arriving, leaving and moving around out hospital sites.”

Mr Holland did not need any further prompting.

Volunteers cut back bushes at Peterborough bridge where NHS worker was attacked. PICTURE: Terry Harris

“I knew it wasn’t good crossing that bridge,” he said. “A week or so ago I walked over it one day to meet my wife and it was a bit scary.

“It wasn’t dark then but getting dark and those bushes looked horrendous- somewhere easy for someone to hide.”

Volunteers cut back bushes at Peterborough bridge where NHS worker was attacked. PICTURE: Terry Harris

He emailed three local councillors with his concerns but then came the attack reported by the hospital.

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Mr Holland put out a plea through a local Facebook page for volunteers to meet with him and cut back bushes and branches back, to ensure no one could lurk in the undergrowth as people crossed the bridge.

“Facebook didn’t get the response I had hoped for but on the day, there were five of us who turned up to help,” he said.

Volunteers cut back bushes at Peterborough bridge where NHS worker was attacked. PICTURE: Terry Harris

Not sure of the legality of their actions one of his local councillors contacted the city council and with a tentative nod of approval, the action day went ahead.

“I think the response from the council was a sort of ‘um well’ and not a clear yes or no, and there was the thought we might get prosecuted for vandalism,” he said.

Reassured that was unlikely, the volunteers started work.

Volunteers cut back bushes at Peterborough bridge where NHS worker was attacked. PICTURE: Terry Harris

“We just went in and hacked down what we thought was needed – we made a bit of a mess originally but by the end of the day, it was tidy and looked – indeed was- safe,” he said.

“We really needed a chain saw but despite pleas for help – again on Facebook – we could not get any, so we just cut down what needed cutting down by hand. It was hard work; I can tell you.”

He added: “But the important thing is that its done, but there is still more that could be done.

“The feedback has been positive, and we have had quite a few comments thanking us. One woman told me she goes that way at 3.30am and after the work had been finished, it was the best journey she had had over that bridge.

“Doing it just for that one person makes it worthwhile and now all nurses and staff can see across the bridge, which is good news.”

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