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‘Tragedy site needs lifebelt’
CALLS have been made for another lifebelt to be installed close to the spot where a teenager drowned.
Oxford city councillor David Williams is leading a campaign to have emergency lifebelts to be fitted on both banks of the Thames at Donnington Bridge, rather than just on one.
It comes three months after 15-year-old Hussain Mohammed, from Cowley, drowned after jumping off the bridge with a friend in May.
Mr Williams said: “Although there is a life ring on the Weirs Lane side of the bridge there is nothing on the Donnington riverbank.
“Precious minutes could be lost as people run over the bridge to reach the safety equipment.
“A life ring is needed on the Donnington side of the river because it is on that side that most of the public activity in using the river takes place. Most of the rowing clubs are on that side and close by and it is on the Donnington side that there is a slipway.”
It is not known if a lifebelt on the Donnington side, the opposite bank to the Thames towpath, would have helped Hussain, but the Iffley Fields councillor believed it would help others in the future to have as many life-saving options as possible close to the spot.
Mr Williams has asked the Environment Agency and Thames Water if they could erect a lifebelt safety box, but as neither organisation owns the land they are unable to help.
Oxford City Council said it was responsible for providing and maintaining lifebelts next to rivers and waterways in Oxford, although some are owned by the Environment Agency and others by boatyards.
A spokesman said: “The council has 100 lifebelt stations along the River Thames and other public waterside locations, which are labelled with an identifying number and phone number. Lifebelts are inspected once every two weeks in the summer and once every four weeks in the winter.
“We work hard to ensure that should you ever need to use one, a lifebelt is available and in the best condition.
“We are happy to look into the suggestion for an additional life ring, but will obviously need to assess whether the proposed location is suitable and whether an additional ring is required.”
Mr Williams has offered to pay for the equipment out of his councillor’s allowance.
He said: “I realise that people could go to the rowing clubs and the Riverside Centre for help in an emergency and I am sure they would do all they can.
“But in a situation where somebody is drowning, every second is vital and a highly visible life ring easily available could be a real life saver.”
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