Signs of hope over Borrowash bridge dispute

Published on: Saturday, 31st July 2021
The newly installed partnership sign on the A52 bridge connecting Borrowash with Ockbrook

Signs are approaching of a conclusion to a dispute over the removal of inspirational posters and messages which have been put on bridges over the A52 in Borrowash.

Derby man Rocco Hawkins set up 'Bridges of Hope' during the height of the pandemic in which notes are put on prominent bridges to help people that are suffering from mental health issues, and who may be contemplating suicide.

Although Mr. Hawkins has the support for his scheme in the city from Derby City Centre, controversy has been raging in Erewash after notes were quickly and repeatedly removed, allegedly by Neighbourhood Wardens shorty after they were put up - particularly on the Victoria Avenue road traffic bridge connecting Borrowash with Ockbrook.

Spokesperson Jack Strand told Erewash Sound earlier this week that talks with Erewash Borough Council had stalled despite strong backing from the community and said that the group was keen to get a message out there for the authority to collectively take heed.

After Jack's correspondence, Rocco took to social media to provide an update having sent a petition to both the borough council and Highways England.

Suggesting that he had spoken to a 'head councillor', he said that they were in full support of the messages on bridges and additionally, that he had spoken to a local representative from Highways England who referred the matter on to a regional manager who was soon in touch.

Highways England are proactive in a partnership with The Samaritans and as a result, a sign referencing the partnership and support available has been installed on the bridge this week.  In addition, Highways England are set to work with Bridges of Hope on future initiatives and events. 

Speaking about the success, and thanking supporters, Rocco said: "Just over one year ago, I had this idea to just try and help after what happened to me.  I didnt think I'd save a life.  To me that was not possible.  But it was.  My day has gone from being upset to being overwhelmed by the guys at Highways England.  I'm not going to lie - it's been a very long year for me and I struggle to accept the good things people say to me. 

I've not had access to my son which, mentally, is very challenging but I haven't folded.  I'm stronger than I've ever been.  Thank you to every one of you that have been by my side and supported what I do.  After the fifteenth time of going to Victoria Avenue, my persistence has hopefully rubbed off.   I was never going to shy away from something that I have a burning desire towards."

Speaking to Ian Perry as part of a Lazy Sunday on 1st August 2021, Rocco indicated that any signs in addition to the Highways England Samaritans signs will continue to be removed, much against his aims and wishes. You can hear the interview by clicking the 'play' button above. There is no information on the official views of Erewash Borough and Ockbrook & Borrowash Parish Councils at this time.

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