Villagers fear children’s lives are being put at risk due to a lack of safety measures on an old railway bridge.

Parents have spoken of their fears that toddlers may slip down the steep drop to the cycle track below on Seaton’s Welfare bridge due to a lack of safety fencing.

And gangs of youths have been spotted leaning over the bridge, endangering their lives.

Seaton parish councillor Ken Slone fears it is “an accident waiting to happen”. He has seen children as young as six leaning over the bridge and throwing items onto the cycle track.

He is not only concerned that they could fall over the steep drop but also that somebody could be hurt below by falling debris.

“I just think it is a health hazard,” he said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen. They sit on the wall and lean over the wall. One false move and it would be a fatality if anyone fell.

“It needs a small grid to stop them. I think it’s Sustrans’ responsibility to safeguard everyone and to put those measures in place.”

Sustrans, who are responsible for the cycle track, has now stepped in and will install farmers fencing to make the area secure.

Coun Slone raised the issue at a recent Seaton Parish Council meeting and other councillors at the meeting agreed that it was a safety concern.

The meeting heard that children were throwing things and spitting onto people on the cycle track below.

The bridge is next to the village hall and caretaker Mike Thompson has also raised concerns.

He added: “Kids congregate around the Welfare bridge, especially during the summer nights and the gangs throw bricks at each other, but if anyone is walking underneath they are fair game. I’ve played war with them and got a lot of lip back.

“The ages range from seven or eight to 14.

“I would like to see the fence made much more secure. The wiring drops away especially near the scout hut side and the wire is very slack it needs a proper fence to stop the kids.

“Mothers have mentioned the bridge when coming to toddler groups, they are concerned that their toddlers may slip down. It needs to be sorted. With the bridge, there is no easy solution, if you put a fence on that they will climb the fence.”

“There was an incident when we were getting the car park done, we put barriers down to stop people walking on the tarmac and some 14 or 15 year olds threw the barriers over and onto the cycle track. The consequences could have been horrendous.”

Paul Bramley, Seaton Parish clerk has contacted Sustrans, who say they have looked at the area and will put up fencing.

Andrew Small from Sustrans said: “I was at the site with the area manager yesterday and we are going to replace the fences. We did put some up and they were pinched within days. We put up a chainlinked fence and it went within the first day of putting it up, which is difficult as we are a charity.

“I am meeting Paul Bramley, from Seaton Parish Council next week and will go through it all with him. We will be putting up a fence, it won’t be a chainlinked fence, we will tighten all the wires and put up farmers fencing all around and make it totally secure.”