Railway, council and water authorities unite to warn of river dangers

Grand Sluice Bridge
Grand Sluice Bridge

Safety warnings have been issued after reports of people trying to keep cool in the recent hot weather by jumping in Boston’s waterways.

A Canal and River Trust spokesman confirmed one of their local lock keepers had seen an increase in youths swimming in the River Witham and jumping off the Grand Sluice Bridge recently.

Waterway manager for the East Midlands Sean McGinley said: “The River Witham may seem like an appealing place to cool off on a hot day but it’s really not a very sensible thing to do.

“We’re by no means party-poopers but it’s important that people understand the risks of jumping into the river and choose a safer place to go for a dip.

“The river can contain some pretty nasty diseases and the cold temperature can cause people to get into difficulties. And of course there’s the small matter of Boston Grand Sluice which can affect the river current.

“Our message is very clear - the River Witham is a great place for a day out but please stay out of the water and make sure you enjoy the rest of the warm weather while it lasts.”

Temperatures across Britain soared last week reaching the high 20s, and are set to continue this week at between 24 and 25 degrees interspersed with light showers and rain.

Network Rail, the Environment Agency and Boston Borough Council have also warned about the dangers of swimming near the Grand Sluice river lock - which is currently down to ensure levels do not drop and cause a problem for fish and wildlife.

Route Managing Director for Network Rail Phil Verster said: “We know the railway proves a tempting location to young people, especially during the good weather and school holidays.

“As well as causing delay to train services all too often this ends in tragedy.

“Our railway is incredibly busy and the trackside is a dirty and dangerous environment for anyone who is not trained to be there.”

Drowning is the third most common accidental death among Britain’s under 16s, behind road accidents and house fires.

Principal community safety officer at the council Peter Hunn said: “Children who view the river as a tempting means of cooling off in a hot spell fail to realise the harmful effects that cold water can have on stamina and strength.

“Boats regularly manoeuvre in the Grand Sluice and Anton Gowt area.

“There is a real danger of becoming entangled in the boats’ propellers or even being caught in the wash of the boat and dragged under by the displacement of the water created by the boats’ movement.”

A spokesman for Lincolnshire Police said safety was a major concern with people in the river, however, they may also be committing an offence.

Witnesses should call police on 101.