Improved safety warning signs are needed on Burnham-On-Sea’s jetty to avoid people putting their lives at risk following a new safety scare, it has been claimed this week.
Local resident Mark Whitcombe has called on Sedgemoor District Council to do more to spell out the safety dangers after seeing several groups of young people putting themselves at risk earlier this week.
He told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I’d cycled to Burnham for the evening and no sooner had I arrived than there were kids and children walking up to the edge of the incoming tide on the slipway where we have sadly lost a child before.”
“Just as I was about to leave, a family from up country with around eight kids no older than 10 years ran down to the slipway screaming ‘let’s go for a swim’ and, to my absolute shock, they meant it too.”
“As a parent of two young children I had to step in and try to stop them.”
“Luckily, the mum and dad came down the slipway 20 seconds later and I explained the dangers of these waters. Thankfully the parents understood as they had no idea of the dangers and our very fast flowing strong tides.”
“To my shock another two young children on holiday no older than six decided to try and get into the mud near the tide edge just left of the slipway. How many more near misses do we need before something very bad happens?”
Mr Whitcombe added: “Why is it there are no signs warning of the extreme tide flow anywhere near the slipway mid-section except at the top? Why are there no barriers that can be placed across the slipway warning ‘do not pass’?”
“What is very obvious is the kids and the parents had no idea whatsoever of the dangers of the slipway, but who’s to blame? Is it them for not reading the signs that are there, or the council for not stopping these people completely from using the slipway when unmanned from the lifeguards.”
Sedgemoor District Council spokeswoman Claire Faun responded to Burnham-On-Sea.com this week: “We have gone to great lengths to put as many information signs as possible up at Burnham-on-Sea warning of the various dangers.”
She added: “On the jetty surface, about half way down, there are painted warning signs. We do have signs on the beach, warning of danger, but these are very much at the mercy of tides and do get washed away in high tides.”
“We cannot put barriers up at the top of the jetty when there are not beach staff on duty, as it is used as a launch ramp for emergency services such as the Coastguard, RNLI and BARB.”
Extra warnings were painted onto the jetty in 2013, as reported here, after four year-old Dylan Cecil died after being swept into the sea, but some of the warnings are no longer fully visible. An audible warning system for jetty staff to call back people in danger was installed in 2013. A safety barrier was also introduced in 2007, as reported here, but it has since been removed.
Anyone with immediate concerns about the safety of people along the coastline or on the jetty should call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.