October 12, 2021 8.32 am This story is over 24 months old

Stricter penalties at Ashby Ville nature reserve after tragic death

“One life lost is one life too many”

Councillors have called for more measures to prevent another tragic death from happening at a North Lincolnshire nature reserve.

Fourteen-year-old Kai Gardner-Pugh sadly lost his life in the water at Ashby Ville in July after getting into difficulty.

Rules have since been brought in to give police the power to force people to get out of open water through a Public Space Protection Order.

Swimmers can now face a £1,000 fine if they ignore warnings.

But North Lincolnshire councillors are still concerned about safety at the nature reserve, and have suggested bailiffs and greater warnings about the dangers to stop the tragedy reoccurring.

North Lincolnshire full council meeting at the Pods, Scunthorpe. | Photo: Jamie Waller

Labour Councillor Andrea Davison called for a more ‘proactive approach’ in enforcing the rules at a full council meeting.

“The sad death of Kai Gardner-Pugh has us asking what else we can do to keep people safe in the water. This council has done a lot of work over the years to improve safety at the Ville,” she said.

“There have been calls to close it as always happen after a sad event like this. It’s our intent to keep it open as a beautiful nature reserve.

“After another tragic death in 2008, the council got together with emergency services to make changes including warning signs, better zoning and making sure emergency services could reach it.

“This Public Space Protection Order is another step forward. I would like to see the council take more of a proactive approach though.

“There is a bailiff at the site on an ad hoc basis to enforce the rules, but we could consider whether that is enough or more is needed.”

North Lincolnshire full council meeting at the Pods, Scunthorpe. | Photo: Jamie Waller

Kai sadly passed away on July 27, despite the efforts of emergency services, after getting into trouble in the water.

Other councillors paid tribute to the Scunthorpe student.

Council leader Rob Waltham said: “It is incredibly tragic that someone so young with their whole future ahead of them has lost their life.

“The council has responsibility to address concerns of the public, and this PSPO will target groups of people who think it’s acceptable to swim in open water.

“It is all of our jobs as community leaders to keep stressing the message about the dangers of swimming there, and ensure that it will never happen again.”

Councillor Tony Gosling shared his personal memories of the dangers of the nature reserve.

“I was 12 years old when my father sat me down and told me never, ever to go swimming in Ashby Ville. Little did I know that several lads had just drowned there,” he said.

“We have tried our best to communicate the danger of the water, but I am not sure we have ever emphasised how deep it is. The shore looks attractive, but it drops off very quickly and reaches 30 feet deep.

“Any swimmers are also in danger of hypothermia, particularly if they become entangled in the weeds.

“We have got to do more – one life lost there is one life too many.”

Councillors added that more people had been drawn to Ashby Ville during the coronavirus lockdowns than ever before.

The PSPO, which came into force in North Lincolnshire in October, prohibits 19 nuisance behaviours, from refusing to stop drinking in public to performing stunts in a vehicle.

Anyone who commits an act can be hit with a £1,000 fine.