Morley station bridge plan to go before council

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COUNCILLORS have welcomed early plans for a footbridge over a railway crossing where a Morley schoolgirl was killed in 2010.

Natasha Elliott, 16, died on May 16 that year after she was hit by a train as she tried to coax her pet dog, Zeus, off the line.

In November 2010 the crossing was temporarily closed by Network Rail and her family and local councillors began negotiations to see if something could be done to keep the footpath open but make it safer.

Last April, Network Rail announced funding for a footbridge and now a pre-application report has been sent to councillors prior to an official planning application being submitted.

Coun Neil Dawson was the first to comment on the news, saying: “I welcome the proposal from Network Rail to build a footbridge for this public footpath to cross the railway line.

“The tragic loss of life in the recent past means it is necessary for the bridge to be in place before the footpath can be reopened.

“I also welcome the bridge having an anti- vandal cage roof and I would suggest that adequate lighting is needed on the bridge and on the stairways”

If granted planning permission by Leeds City Council, the new bridge will be around 45m to the east of the original crossing to avoid nearby gas and sewer mains so the existing path will be diverted to meet it.

The existing palisade fence will also be relocated to keep walkers away from the busy railway line.

After Natasha’s tragic death her grandfather Tony Elliott started to create a memorial garden for Natasha near the crossing where many of her friends continued to go to remember her.

Network Rail became concerned that too many teenagers were congregating there and that perhaps it could lead to more accidents and so they helped create a new memorial to Natasha in the centre of Morley.

In May 2011 a sculpture of the teenager by local artist Melanie Wilks was unveiled infront of friends, family and local councillors in the garden at Morley Central Methodist Church.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said: “We have been granted closure of the crossing until the end of May 2013 so spring remains the target, subject to planning permission being received of course.”