Harsher penalties at Ashby Ville nature reserve after tragedy
Councillors are calling for more measures to prevent further tragic deaths from happening at Ashby Ville nature reserve in North Lincolnshire.
Fourteen-year-old Kai Gardner-Pugh sadly lost his life in the water at Ashby Ville in July.
Under a new Public Space Protection Order police will have the power to force people to get out of open water if they do not listen to warnings.
Those who continue to swim in the water will face a £1,000 fine.
While there are signs dotted across the nature reserve which state that swimming, paddle boarding and boating in the lake is prohibited, many do not listen.
However, North Lincolnshire councillors are still concerned about safety at the nature reserve.
Measures such as bailiffs and greater warnings about the dangers to stop the tragedy from reoccurring have been suggested.
Labour Councillor Andrea Davison stated: “The sad death of Kai Gardner-Pugh has us asking what else we can do to keep people safe in the water. This council has done a lot of work over the years to improve safety at the Ville,” she said.
“There have been calls to close it as always happen after a sad event like this. It’s our intent to keep it open as a beautiful nature reserve.
“After another tragic death in 2008, the council got together with emergency services to make changes including warning signs, better zoning and making sure emergency services could reach it.
“This Public Space Protection Order is another step forward. I would like to see the council take more of a proactive approach though.
“There is a bailiff at the site on an ad hoc basis to enforce the rules, but we could consider whether that is enough or more is needed.”
Despite the efforts of emergency services, Kai sadly passed away on July 27 after getting into trouble in the water.
Council leader Rob Waltham said: “It is incredibly tragic that someone so young with their whole future ahead of them has lost their life.
“The council has a responsibility to address concerns of the public, and this PSPO will target groups of people who think it’s acceptable to swim in open water.
“It is all of our jobs as community leaders to keep stressing the message about the dangers of swimming there, and ensure that it will never happen again.”
Councillor Tony Gosling shared his personal experience of the reserve saying: “I was 12 years old when my father sat me down and told me never, ever to go swimming in Ashby Ville. Little did I know that several lads had just drowned there,” he said.
“We have tried our best to communicate the danger of the water, but I am not sure we have ever emphasised how deep it is. The shore looks attractive, but it drops off very quickly and reaches 30 feet deep.
“Any swimmers are also in danger of hypothermia, particularly if they become entangled in the weeds.
“We have got to do more – one life lost there is one life too many.”
It was added at the meeting that Ashby Ville had become extremely popular during the coronavirus lockdowns.
The PSPO, which came into force in North Lincolnshire in October, prohibits 19 nuisance behaviours.
Contact Gi Scunthorpe News
Email us: [email protected]