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Petition plea after Accrington Arndale death fall
A PETITION with more than 1,300 signatures has been presented to Hyndburn Council, calling for greater safety measures at the Arndale Centre in Accrington.
Friends of Lauren Johnson, the 17-year-old who died after falling from the town centre building last month, collected the names online and during a town centre rally.
The petition comes as Arndale bosses met with police, council officials and the Samaritans charity to discuss how to prevent further deaths at the Union Street site.
Five people have died in the past five years after falling from the shopping centre’s car park.
The petition, started by Accrington woman Sarah Clitheroe, was addressed to the Arndale’s owners, Jesta Capital, and called for an end to all public access of the building’s roof.
It read: “It is becoming a hotspot of recent years and removing access will not stop people’s choices, but will give them one less place to think about doing it.”
Coun Malcolm Pritchard, UKIP member for Milshaw, handed in the petition at a full meeting of Hyndburn Council.
He said: “The names on there were split between about 900 online signatures and almost 500 which were collected in the town centre when they held a march.”
Council leader Miles Parkinson, who attended the safety meeting, said the talks were ‘positive’.
He added: “It was a productive meeting and we’ve spoken about how the Arndale and the Samaritans can work together going forward.
“Suicide is sadly always going to happen, but we need to ensure that people know the support organisations are there for them to talk to.”
Michael Pope, Lauren’s friend, hopes to set up a charity in her memory called Lauren’s Place, to create a safe haven for young people with mental health issues in Accrington.
The roof has been closed indefinitely since Lauren, of Blackburn Road, Oswaldtwistle, died on June 5, while the Arndale carries out a safety review.