Fighting to make Bawsey Pits safe for people to enjoy again

PUBLISHED: 20:48 03 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:41 04 July 2014

Bawsey Pits, where a man and a 16-year-old boy drowned last summer. Picture: Ian Burt

Bawsey Pits, where a man and a 16-year-old boy drowned last summer. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

People want a country park which is safe for them to enjoy at Bawsey, a public meeting heard tonight.

Almost 600 responded to a public consultation questionnaire about the future of the tragic beauty spot near King’s Lynn, where a man and a 16-year-old boy died last summer.

Tonight’s meeting, at the nearby Sandboy pub, was told the Bawsey Lakes Futures Group had been formed, to agree how the site could be improved.

Gary Stringer, director of resources for minerals firm Sibelco, which owns the pits, said: “We can’t have people dying whether it’s our land or community land. We’ve got to have a solution.”

Around 80pc of those responding to the survey lived in the King’s Lynn area, the meeting heard. Of those, 80pc wanted to walk their dogs or enjoy outdoor activities, 74pc favoured watersports such as fishing or canoeing, while 80pc would be prepared to pay to park at the pits if the money was invested in their upkeep.

People attending the meeting were invited to join five sub groups, which will each draw up proposals for how parts of the site could be devoted to conservation, watersports, shore-based leisure activities, commercial uses and education.

Nigel Canham, a member of the futures group, said they would have to “accord with the broad thrust of the survey results”.

He added: “The public have spoken very clearly about the sort of mix that might work.”

Dozens ignored the No Swimming signs and took to the waters last summer before Umar Balogun, 16, from London, went missing, on July 16. Ryan Pettengell, 41, from King’s Lynn, got into difficulties after he swam out to look for the missing teenager.

The bodies of both men were recovered by divers after a major search involving police and firefighters.

Andy Parker, chair of the futures group, said: “We formed following the tragic deaths of Ryan and Omar, we’re determined no similar events will ever occur.”

Days after the double tragedy, there were swimmers in the lakes again. Sibelco locked the car park, but was required to allow access to the site by planning laws.

Mr Stringer said the gate would remain locked until a way forward had been agreed for the lakes, adding the closure was “non negotiable”. He said the amount of litter left around the site had fallen since vehicles had been prevented from accessing it.


  • Nothing is completely safe and there's nothing wrong with swimming in pits as long as the water is not contaminated and or 'obstacles and scrap has been dumped there. I'm sure that the locals will make the best use of their pits, good luck to them.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, July 6, 2014

  • Daisy the paper version of todays edp, page 48, is running a story about 3 clean energy plants being built at Yarmouth outer harbour. The plants are biomass facilities so with your - extensive - knowledge of enery from waste I am sure you will be highly vocal in your support of them.

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    Canary Boy

    Friday, July 4, 2014

  • Daisy you obviously know nothing about this! There was no poll and your swipe at west norfolk shows your sadly lacking mentality. What you call a poll was actually a very extensive survey asking local people - concept unheard of outside of our district - to put forward their ideas on the future of the site. As with every consultation over here many people responded, including me, because the sandpits are an important community assett which needs to be fully reopened asap.

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    Canary Boy

    Friday, July 4, 2014

  • Another West Norfolk poll claiming to mean something? Sand and gravel pits are never completely safe even if the company which digs them levels off areas before abandonment. They are by definition deep, with associated dangers from that deep water, and from weeds. Unless there is weed clearance it is hard to see how they can be regarded as safe for boating sports, and unless the sides are levelled to a reasonable depth and permanently separated from the deep water it is hard to see how they can be regarded as safe for swimming. Most sensible people in Norfolk years ago would have not dreamt of using pits for anything other than a bit of fishing.The surrounding areas are pleasant for walking-but it seems the people of West Norfolk are now poltroons and cant be trusted to keep out of the water. The fashion for wild water swimming and triathlons probably contributed to this false feeling of invincibility and the promotion by the sand companies keen to make it seem as if they are bequeathing a resource rather than a scar from an industrial process likely encourages it. I knew the area fifty years ago before some of these pits were dug and although it is nice area to walk, people managed without it before and they could manage without it now. What's wrong with Wootton woods for recreation? Bawsey pits could be left for conservation purposes and even landfill now that Daubney has got his way....

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    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

  • But it is safe for them to enjoy?

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    Vic Sponge

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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