A Burton police chief has branded a stunt when a 'freerunner' performed daring acrobatic moves on Burton's historic Ferry Bridge a "needless risk of life".
Chief Inspector Rob Neeson spoke out after the Burton Mail published footage filmed for ETHCS ethical clothing company which features Tim Shieff, a professional English freerunner, showing off his impressive gymnastic skills on the recently restored Ferry Bridge.
He is pictured swinging and hanging from the iconic bridge and even standing on the very top as people walk by. The footage prompted much debate on the Burton Mail's Facebook page too, with some branding the stunt irresponsible, while others thought it amazing.
However the footage has led to some criticism that it could lead to copycats attempting to recreate Tim's dangerous moves, while members of the Friends of Ferry Bridge, which instigated a multi-million revamp of the bridge at the Washlands in the town, also agreed.
However, now Staffordshire Police said that while Mr Shieff had trained extensively, there was still a substantial risk to his safety.
Chief Inspector and LPT Commander for East Staffordshire, Rob Neeson, said: “It is clear to the many people seeing this sort of clip that the individual involved appears to have trained extensively for this sort of activity, which reduces the danger but there is still a substantial risk to this behaviour.
“The very nature of the River Trent means it is fast flowing, has multiple undercurrents and is a dangerous environment even for the most gifted and experienced of swimmers.
“This is a needless risking of life and I would urge others not to copy or attempt these sorts of stunts unless under a pre-arranged and risk assessed activity.”
Readers have their say
Burton Mail readers were divided in their opinions. Many welcomed the video showing the world champion enjoying Burton, but others said it was putting people at risk.
Chris Maddox said: “My personal opinion is that this well shot film highlights the amazing work that has gone into restoring the ferry bridge which has the potentially to show they work off globally in an unusual way. This wouldn't get the attention if it didn't have Tim in. I think it's great, keep the vids coming!”
Jamie Goacher said: “How cool is it to have a world champion freerunner in Burton. Serious skills.”
Jo Williams said: “Callisthenics (gymnastic exercises) can be amazing when done properly. It’s totally unprofessional to put others at risk though. People were walking below and it looked like one was a child.”
Gaynor Jones said: "I think this is amazing, for the ones moaning, how many adverts are there on TV showing something that most people wouldn't go and copy. Stop with the "it's my bridge attitude" because it certainly doesn't belong to you, those people walking underneath could have been part of it , just a thought."
Kath Cooper said "As you said, don't copy what the man is doing but how many kids will still go and have ago as they see him do it so easy - all wrong? Keep to your gym."
Craig Gillibrand said: "If he was a professional he would know better than to do it with the public walking underneath him. Just looks like a joker to me."
Kim MacBeth said: "Disrespectful considering the amount of money, time, effort and inconvenience this restoration took, just so he can misuse it? I think not."