Flip-flop over city's love locks

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:00 14/06/2014
Kymberly Widley
MARTIN DE RUYTER
CAMPAIGNER: Kymberly Widley and her daughter Vianne with locks carrying messages of love on the bridge.
Kymberly Widley's lock
SWEET: Kymberly Widley's lock.

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Some Nelson people are "thrilled" to see that the Nelson City Council is going to let them express their binding love after all.

Last week the council cut 30 "love locks" from the Collingwood Street bridge. Padlocks had been attached there, and the keys thrown away, in the name of love.

The council said it considered the love locks graffiti and was concerned the locks would erode the bridge.

However, due to public pressure, the council has now decided lovers are welcome to keep putting padlocks on the bridge.

While not quite Paris' Pont des Arts, which became so weighed down by thousands of love locks that part of it collapsed this week, the Nelson bridge has been accumulating locks for the past two years. As on Pont des Arts there were locks on the bridge from locals, as well as overseas visitors.

Upon discovered the missing locks, a group of disheartened Nelsonians banned together to campaign to keep the love locks going.

Kymberly Widley helped create a Facebook "Save Our Love Locks Nelson NZ" page to spread the word. So far, it had almost 250 likes and had sparked a parody song from More FM in support of the campaign.

Widley she was "thrilled" to see vocal Nelsonians' efforts had worked.

Widley was married in January, and she and husband Nick put up a lock on their wedding day to symbolise their love.

In tradition of love locks, they threw away the key.

She was "absolutely gutted" that her lock was taken down.

While the council has said cut locks could be collected from its contractor Downer in Quarantine Rd, her one was not there. Yesterday, she replaced her lock and hoped others would too.

"We live just down the road, so we walk past all the time with the kids and count the locks, so it's quite special."

She had family who lived in the UK who had also put a lock on the bridge. It was taken down on Friday but replaced by Widley yesterday. She said she would take photos of the original lock to send to the family members.

She believed the love locks could become a tourist attraction, like in Paris. Many tourists walked across the bridge and noticed the locks, she said.

Nelson City Council group manager infrastructure Alec Louverdis said in light of the community response, the council was happy to allow the practice, but would monitor the situation.

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Locks might be removed in the future if they became problematic or caused any extra maintenance on the bridge.

He said there was concern that any corrosion from the locks could also damage the paint on the bridge.

The love locks were safe, for now, so Widley said they would keep the Facebook page, but rename it "Love Locks Nelson, NZ".

The council said it would allow locks to stay on the bridge as long as they were only attached to the netting, and if they did not become so numerous that the netting sagged, and did not stick out and interfere with passersby.

- The Nelson Mail

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