Water Safety and Life-saving Equipment

Part of Petition - Road Safety Outside Wingate Primary School – in the House of Commons at 6:46 pm on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 6:46 pm, 24th July 2019

I thank Mr Speaker for granting me this debate and allowing me to highlight an issue that has been prominent in my constituency and those of many other Members who have come along this evening. Drownings are sadly all too common. We hear today of a body being recovered in London, as happened recently in the Speirs Wharf area of the constituency of Mr Sweeney. Our hearts go out to all the families who have lost loved ones to drowning.

Given the scorching temperatures outside, many people will be tempted to go into the water without realising the risks that involves, so I highlight the Royal Lifesaving Society’s summer water safety campaign. We need to all look out for one another in those circumstances and ensure as much as we can that those messages are shared with all our constituents wherever we have open water, or rivers or even large ponds, in our constituencies. People need to understand the risks they are taking.

Concerns have been raised for some time in Glasgow about damage to lifebelts and life ropes particularly, but not exclusively, on the banks of the River Clyde, which runs through my constituency. Life-saving equipment is regularly being removed, damaged and otherwise tampered with. In response, Glasgow City Council’s water safety working group has launched a campaign, “Taking a lifebelt is taking a life”. Only a week after the launch and of signs being affixed to the lifebelt posts in the city, the Evening Times reported that some of the signs themselves had been vandalised. Andy Waddell, the chairman of Glasgow’s water safety working group, said:

“People who vandalise the lifebelts along the Clyde need to be fully aware of the potentially lethal consequences of their actions. That anyone would seek to destroy a safety message intended to protect lives is truly mind-boggling.”