Four people were questioned by police over vandalism to the Adur Ferry Bridge, councillors heard last night (Thursday, July 14).
Taxpayers have footed a five-figure maintenance bill following a spate of smashed panels and graffiti being daubed on the bridge.
Adur District Council held a special scrutiny meeting yesterday, with residents packing the Shoreham Centre to discuss the issue.
Shoreham PCSO Amy Hollin said: “Four young people were arrested. That was from an unrelated matter. There was some evidence on the graffiti which meant they were able to be questioned in relation to it.
“Unfortunately, I was informed this morning there had been no further action due to insufficient evidence.
“Since these people were arrested – and bearing in mind they weren’t charged – there have been no further incidents of graffiti on the footbridge.”
The meeting heard how West Sussex County Council were considering investing in better CCTV, which would cover a wider area of the bridge.
A written statement by a county council officer noted the current CCTV was of sufficient quality to identify facial features and was constantly recording.
PCSO Hollin said police had been supplied with images of a group going onto the footbridge but footage did not show them causing damage.
She understood proposed new CCTV would also be of higher quality.
Residents said there had been a lack of clarity over the cause of damage, with initial reports the breakages had been caused by defects in the glass panels.
David Johnson, of Riverside, in Shoreham Beach, likened the issue to a ‘Sherlock Holmes story’, with a ‘less than definitive’ message from the county council on the issue.
Councillor Joss Loader criticised county officers for not being present to answer technical questions.
She praised highways officer Mike Thomas for covering questions on other issues.
She said: “It’s very regrettable that no officer was sent to answer the technical questions relating to the vandalism, if indeed it was vandalism. “The messages that have been put out by the county council regarding the issue of the broken panels have fallen very far short of what you would expect of the publicly-funded communications department. People do not know whether it’s vandalism or a manufacturing fault.”
A freedom of information request, reported by the Herald here, revealed the county’s position on the cause of damage.
But structural engineer David Collins, of Old Fort Road, in Shoreham Beach, believed structural issues were the real cause.
He said: “At the moment all we have heard is it is vandalism and I know it’s not. I am saying prove it. If you have caught nobody and you have got nobody on CCTV, common sense prevails that these panels aren’t fit for purpose.”