Shrewsbury river safety review to be launched after tragedies

Fences, CCTV, intervention and awareness will all be looked at as part of a two-month review into river safety in Shrewsbury.

Hundreds of people took part in searches after Nathan Fleetwood disappeared
Hundreds of people took part in searches after Nathan Fleetwood disappeared

The review, which is set to be approved by Shropshire Council's cabinet next week, comes after a series of River Severn tragedies have rocked the town.

Two men, Nathan Fleetwood and Toby Jones, died in the river in the space of a few days in March and April, and another man, Dan Walker, was left with serious injuries after being rescued from the water.

Nathan Fleetwood died after going missing at the end of a night out

There have been calls from family members, friends, and local politicians to look at more measures to prevent a repeat of the tragedies.

Now Shropshire Council's cabinet has confirmed it is set to agree an official review, led by consultants WSP, into the issue.

A report to be considered by the council's cabinet on Wednesday, June 8, says 41 people have died in Shropshire's rivers between 2004 and April 2022.

Toby Jones died after being pulled from the river by firefighters at Victoria Quay

Of those to have died, 12 were recorded as suicides by the county's coroner, with nine listed as accidental deaths.

The review is set to consider all options for improving safety – including fences, CCTV, the state of river banks, awareness, and education.

Councillor Dean Carroll, cabinet member for physical infrastructure, said they would look at all factors – including alcohol.

He said: "What we need to do obviously is particularly reassurance but more than reassurance we need to make sure there are no factors under our control that are making tragic events more likely. That is the reason for the review and all the work we are undertaking behind the scenes."

Dan Walker was told he may not walk again after ending up in the River Severn earlier this year

Councillor Carroll said it was not a case of looking for the most 'blunt tool' to tackle the problem, and added that while fencing would be considered, it was not the only solution.

He said: "I have always been very clear that the answer is not miles and miles of fences. There is no reason to believe it would be any more effective than other interventions – in fact it could have precisely the opposite effect. If you want to conduct a river rescue that becomes a whole lot more difficult if you have fences in the way."

Jane Trethewey, the council's assistant director of homes and communities, said the review would also look at the impact of pubs, bars, clubs, and the night time economy on the issue.

She said: "Potentially is there any increase in the night time economy? Is there an increase in bars and clubs open on the evening that might lead to people finding them finding their way home late at night worse for wear?"

Ms Trethewey said the review would make recommendations to improve safety, adding: "What is the thing that would really stop someone's loved one going into the water and having a terrible outcome?"

Ms Trethewey said 'river wardens' would be considered as part of the review but might not be the best solution, with instead a focus on "intervention before they ever meet the riverside".

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News