HUNDREDS of padlocks - intended to symbolise the everlasting bond between two people in love - have been removed from York's Millennium Bridge
City of York Council says it removed 300 of the 'lovelocks' last week because it feared such a suspension bridge could be unbalanced.
The authority's action comes a month after the Pont des Arts footbridge over the River Seine in Paris had to close briefly when the weight of thousands of locks caused a section of the mesh fencing to buckle and fall on to the pavement.
The love locks are considered to symbolize a couple's commitment to each other but they have become a source of growing controversy abroad, with critics saying that beautiful bridges are being blighted by the padlock epidemic. Two friends living in Paris, Lisa Taylor Huff and Lisa Anselmo, started a campaign called No Love Locks in January.
York's footbridge over the Ouse has seen an increasing number of padlocks appear on its mesh fencing in recent months, following the spread of the trend to Britain from the Continent.
Russell Stone, York council's head of public realm,said the authority decided to remove 300 padlocks last week to discourage the practice, which he claimed could compromise the safety and durability of a bridge.
"As happened in Paris and, depending on its design and construction, overloading areas could unbalance a bridge – especially a suspension bridge like the Millennium Bridge – which risks instability and handrails coming loose," he said.
“We were able to save some padlocks and anyone wanting to see if theirs was among them and reclaim it should email email@example.com.”
By last Thursday evening, there was just one lock on the bridge, inscribed with the message "S & L 2014", which had apparently been put there following the council's actions in a show of romantic defiance.
People walking over the bridge were in two minds about the locks and their removal. Caroline Hind said she had liked seeing them, feeling they gave the bridge a little character, while Claire Stephens said: "It's a bit of a shame," although she conceded the bridge now looked better. Catherine Robinson said: "It looks better without them."
*Did you place a padlock on the bridge to symbolise your love for each other? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01904 567131.