Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 09:35 UK

Ambulances 'too heavy' for bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Heavier ambulances are to take a different route

Some ambulances have been banned from using the Clifton Suspension Bridge as they are too heavy for the structure.

Bridge master David Anderson has issued a reminder that there is a four-ton weight limit on the iconic bridge between Bristol and North Somerset.

Some ambulances bought recently by the Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) weigh more than five tons.

Paramedic Chris Hewitt said a decision had been taken to send crews along the Portway to reach the M5 and Portishead.

People have been offered reassurance by the ambulance service

"When we had a look at the way we use the bridge we realised probably about three-quarters of the journeys we do aren't to the communities directly on the other side, but we were using it as a shortcut to get to the M5 or to Portishead, so we've just diverted those to the Portway," said Mr Hewitt.

"While it might frustrate us that we can't use the more pleasant route, it certainly doesn't put lives in Leigh Woods or the nearby area at risk.

"I'm genuinely confident we're not putting lives at risk, and it isn't having a critical effect on the service.

"As well as our fleet of five-ton ambulances we also have a large complement of rapid response vehicles which are small and well under the weight limit for the bridge, so we'll respond them to any communities directly on the other side."

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