Lifesaving measures planned to reduce drowning risk at Grimsby's Riverhead
LIFESAVING equipment will be installed to reduce the risk of drowning at Grimsby's Riverhead.
Buoyancy aids and warning signs will be put up around the Riverhead Basin, while a range of other safety measures are being considered for the longer term.
The move comes after the Grimsby Telegraph highlighted growing concerns about the dangers posed by the town's open water areas.
According to the council, four fatalities have been recorded in the past 10 years as well as a number of near misses.
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In July, we carried a front page story about a man who was rescued from the freezing water of the Riverhead by three police officers.
And in August we reported on a campaign by the family of Craig 'Boo' Marsh, who drowned after falling into Alexandra Dock in November 2010, for lifelines to be installed at the water's edge.
The issue was picked up by local councillors, and a series of safety proposals were drawn up by North East Lincolnshire Council's strategic partner Balfour Beatty.
The safer and stronger communities scrutiny panel gave the go-ahead for the "quick-win" solutions of signs and buoyancy aids to be installed, which is expected to cost less than £1,000.
It also recommended that a feasibility study be carried out on other potential safety measures for the entire stretch of water between the Riverhead Basin and Corporation Bridge.
A chain to help people pull themselves out of the water.
Audible warning devices
A sensor to alert CCTV cameras when someone goes into the water.
The move has been supported by Craig's mother Elaine Marsh.
She said: "It's marvellous, but I just don't understand why they weren't put in place before.
"I just hope it prevents other people going through what we have gone through.
"Anyone could fall into the water and at the moment there's nothing to save them.
"The basin at the Riverhead is filthy and that's a danger in itself. There should be life buoys at Alexandra Dock because quite a lot of people go fishing there."
Councillor Steve Norton (Con, Humberston and New Waltham) welcomed the proposals, but cautioned against the council becoming a "nanny authority".
He said: "The cost is low to the authority and I do support these recommendations, but I do have concerns that we are trying to protect people who really ought to know better."
Councillor Iain Colquhoun (Con, Waltham) agreed that adults should be trusted to act responsibly around the basin, but said he was concerned about the possibility of children running away from their parents and falling into the water.
He said another danger was the variety of objects, such as abandoned shopping trolleys, lurking beneath the waterline.
He added: "I really am pleased that at last someone has taken the initiative and come up with a management plan that's heading in the right direction.
"The cost of implementing these recommendations is very minor, but it will lead to a tremendous increase in the potential safety of everyone using the town centre."
The chairman of the panel, Councillor Jon-Paul Howarth (Lab, East Marsh), thanked the Grimsby Telegraph and safety campaigners for keeping the issue in the public domain.
He said: "A lot of people have risked their own lives trying to save others and we have a duty of care to those people. Nobody deserves to lose their lives in such a way that could be prevented."