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Public urged to avoid trespass swims at Bawsey

Published: Thursday, 16th November 2023

The borough council and Bawsey Country Park are urging people not to take part in a wild swimming event that has been organised in a location where 4 people have drowned in the past 10 years.

A Right to Swim event has been organised for this coming Sunday at Bawsey Pits, a notorious place for water accidents. As well as the people who have drowned, others have had to be rescued.

Cllr Sandra Squire, Borough Council Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “We are asking anyone who has seen this event advertised NOT to take part.

“Whilst we would not want to prevent people from taking part in wild swimming altogether, we must discourage people from doing it in a location with a history of drownings. It’s particularly shocking to discover that as well as organising this for adults, Right to Swim are involving children who are not in a position to make an informed choice about what is safe.

“Anyone new to the area or not familiar with its history may not be fully aware of the risks. It is the combined opinion of the Borough Council and Bawsey Country Park that this is not a safe place to swim.”

The organiser of Sunday’s event has put together a web page with an assessment of ‘risks and myths’ about the site but the council is concerned that some of the information on this assessment is wrong, for example the statement that there is no evidence for risks beyond the usual risks of swimming outdoors in cold and deep water.

Bawsey Country Park emphasised that it has very clear rules and swimming is not allowed. The rules are displayed on signs across the site in text and pictorial form. They are also on the park’s website, and they are routinely re-emphasised on social media.

Bawsey Country Park added: “We do not wish to paint Bawsey Country Park as dangerous as it is not dangerous if people respect the rules. In the same way as a road is not dangerous if people respect the rules of the road.

“We are concerned that if this activity is promoted to the public as going to occur at Bawsey, or frankly any inland water be it the River Thames or Loch Lomond, that more people may think that they would like to participate and break the rules thus increasing the chances of tragedy”.

“We urge that people respect the park rules and respect the park.”

The partners have learned that at least two events have already taken place and a further event has been advertised to take place on Sunday. 

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