Fencing the River Severn ‘is not the answer’, says council leader after Shrewsbury tragedy

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One man is dead and another is seriously injured after falling into the River Severn. Meanwhile, the search for missing Nathan Fleetwood continues.

Calls have been made for improved safety along the River Severn in Shrewsbury following the death of 31-year-old Toby Jones. He died in hospital after being rescued by firefighters at Victoria Quay last Friday evening.

Shrewsbury City Council leader Alan Mosley wants to hear positive suggestions for improving safety along the river, but doesn’t think fencing off large sections of the river or closing the quarry would be the right thing to do, d especially since the entire shore area is now lit up at night.

He said: “These are horrific tragedies and we must join with other agencies to investigate each incident on its own particular circumstances and see if there is anything we can do to mitigate the risks to the future.

“We must also stress that people take responsibility for their safety and that of their friends, and suggest that the owners of pubs and clubs in the city also take additional responsibility.

Flowers were left on a section of the River Severn with a fence near the scene where Toby Jones was pulled from the water

“As a council, we will be open to meeting anyone with positive suggestions. We may need to look at particularly sensitive points along the river to ensure that all necessary safety measures are in place. This may include CCTV monitored in particular areas of concern.

“However, putting tamper-evident security fencing along the river is not a feasible, desirable or financially possible solution.”

A petition has been started for more CCTV cameras near the river in the city centre. Widow Kirsty Walsh, whose husband Shane died after falling in the river in 2017, would also like to see CCTV increased.

Campaign group Make Our Rivers Safer plans to stage a peaceful protest against the dangers of the river and has called for meetings with city council, police, firefighters, street pastors and others.

Meanwhile, a fire chief is urging the public to be aware of the water after crews from the Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to each incident.

The service is launching a new plea for people to be vigilant when walking by the water’s edge.

Service tips include:

  • Avoid walking back to the riverside if you have been drinking. The shortcut might seem like a good idea, but the paths can be slippery and you could easily fall into them.

  • If you see someone in distress, do not go into the water to help them. Use one of the nearby throw ropes or call 999 for assistance.

  • Don’t swim in open water, it can be very cold even on hot days causing cramps and breathing difficulties – these can affect even the strongest swimmer.

Deputy Fire Chief Simon Hardiman said, “It is extremely concerning for us to see this increase in the number of water-related incidents in the county. We typically see around three water rescues a year and seeing three in a week is incredibly worrying.

“We have worked with our partners over the past two years to make some of these areas safer. This has included the installation of throwing lines and training on how to use them for street pastors.

“However, we ask the public to be aware of the dangerousness of the water and to avoid walking near the river if you have been drinking.”

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