Better lighting, CCTV and fencing needed, says victim's mum after Shrewsbury river safety review

The mother of a river tragedy victim called for better fencing, lighting and CCTV following a highly-anticipated safety report.

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

Shropshire Council revealed a 96-page review into river safety in the county this week, with a number of measures suggested including Amsterdam-style urinals to try to keep people safe away from the riverbank.

However Shane Game, mother of 31-year-old Toby Jones who lost his life in April in the River Severn in Shrewsbury, felt the suggestion was “passing the buck” to victims and that other more valuable steps could be taken.

“There was no mention of it before,” she said. “Not everyone (who’s got into difficulty in the river) was going for a wee. We don’t think Toby was. We think he dropped his glasses and he was using the light on his phone to look for them.”

The suggestion of fencing along the river is one that has drawn a mixed response, with some suggesting it would be too expensive and would spoil views.

However, Shane believes the most risky spots should be fenced and raised concerns about poor lighting and the lack of taxi availability for people in town late at night.

“No-one has said put fencing all the way along the river, just the bits that are dangerous. By the Welsh Bridge and the English Bridge.

“It needs fencing in the areas where it’s a danger and proper lighting and CCTV. Especially now with the dark nights. You can hardly get a taxi any more and people will walk home. It worries me. I say to my friends and family, instead of trying to get a taxi, I’ll do it.”

The River Severn, Shrewsbury

Shane was on board with the suggestion of more riverside ladders being installed.

Other measures suggested include edge delineation at Water Lane and between Greyfriars Bridge and the weir, replacement barriers and a review of the existing lighting installations and proposed lighting for currently unlit areas where it is deemed to be a requirement.

It is recommended that the plans for the new Riverside development are scrutinised to ensure that river safety is addressed and that a Water Safety Action Group is set up.

It is also recommended that the existing signage is reviewed, an action which could be carried out by the Water Safety Action Group.

Additional surveillance to cover the area between Castle Walk bridge and the weir could be considered, as well as general information boards.

Specific signage is to be considered for Kingsland Bridge and Porthill Bridge to warn against shallow water, and due to the high risk posed by the absence of suitable exit points for sections along the river, the provision of ladders should be implemented “as soon as reasonably practicable”.

The issue of river safety is expected to be discussed at a Shrewsbury Town Council meeting on Monday, and Shropshire Council’s next cabinet meeting on Wednesday, December 14.

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