Spencer Hurst: Open water sites to be made safer after tragic death of 15-year-old
Open water sites across Walsall will be made safer with a £73,000 cash injection, council chiefs have revealed, following the tragic death of Spencer Hurst.
The one-off spend by Walsall Council comes six months after the death of the 15-year-old in a lake in Pelsall.
Spencer died after getting into difficulty at Ryders Hayes Mear, sparking calls for safety measures to be introduced there and at other sites across the borough.
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Now bosses have announced the investment to create safety signs and pathway works at all of the open water areas it manages.
They will also pay an officer to inspect sites regularly and go into schools to educate youngsters about the dangers of open water.
Councillor Chris Jones, portfolio holder for clean and green, said the authority was committed to improving safety around open water sites in the borough.
He said: “We want people to enjoy the fantastic green spaces we have in Walsall, but we’re very focused on them doing so safely.
“Open water may look very attractive on hot summer days, but it can be lethal. Frozen water in winter can also be very deceptive and dangerous.
“If Cabinet agrees to the proposals I’m putting forward, we will be seeking to recruit an officer to go into schools and educate young people on the dangers of open water.
“This officer would also be responsible for inspecting our sites regularly to assess risk and arrange any works necessary to ensure the safety of site users.”
The council manages some 46 parks, green spaces and agricultural land, which have areas of open water, including ponds, pools, streams, rivers and ornamental water features, but the Ryders Hayes Mear site is owned by Parkhill Estates.
Spencer’s mother Joanne Fellows has previously urged chiefs to bring in more safety measures across the borough.
She welcomed the announcement, saying: “I don’t want another family to go through what we have had to go through so I think this is a good decision by the council and I hope it improves safety.”
Spencer got into difficulty while swimming with friends during the June heatwave.
Watch Spencer's sister Hollie pay an emotional tribute to her brother after his death
At a pre-inquest hearing earlier this year Black Country coroner Zafar Siddique revealed he would write a preventing future deaths report to Parkhill Estates.
The coroner said he had ‘grave concerns’ about the safety of the lake and the potential danger to other children. No-one from Parkhill Estates was available for comment.