United front against railings along dockside
MEMBERS of Bristol's Harbourside Forum united in their opposition to plans to put new railings up at the edge of the city docks.
The forum, which brings businesses using the docks together with councillors and public bodies including the emergency services, met last night to discuss a report which recommended installing railings at Princes Wharf.
Docks services manager Richard Smith had warned the harbour users that action needed to be taken to bring the quayside near the M shed museum into line with guidelines produced by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
Mr Smith told them that, given the rise in the number of people using Princes Wharf since the opening of the museum and the risk of somebody tripping over on the harbour railway track, it was "only a matter of time" before an incident occurred – and that the council would have trouble defending itself in a legal action if it had not followed ROSPA's advice.
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But the railings scheme is being opposed by boat users, who say railings make it more difficult for crew members to get on and off vessels, and would attract youngsters who would climb and sit on them, above moored boats.
Among those opposed to the scheme is the skipper of historic replica sailing ship The Matthew, who spoke out in yesterday's Post.
He was joined at last night's meeting by the director of the ss Great Britain Trust, Matthew Tanner, who pointed out that the report included figures which showed that no accidents had recently been recorded in areas without railings, whereas five had been reported where railings were already installed.
The forum, whose members include Harbourside entertainment venues as well as businesses that use the water itself, will now pass its views to Liberal Democrat cabinet councillor Dr Jon Rogers and there are likely to be further discussions before a final decision is reached.
Speaking afterwards, the Conservative spokesman on the forum, Richard Eddy, said: "I am delighted a knowledgeable but independent body, such as the Harbourside Forum, has spoken out with one voice against the hare-brained scheme to install railings on Bristol's historic dockside.
"That is no guarantee that this politically correct measure would actually reduce risk and a great deal of evidence that railings will destroy the authentic look of our docks and undermine mariners' interests.
"I trust that the council cabinet will now listen to those who know and care about the Harbourside and torpedo this frankly ridiculous notion."
Mr Salvidge said: "It was a good meeting and lots of people voiced their opinions, which were unanimously against the railings."