Water safety to be assessed at Eyemouth

TWO months on from teenager Katie MacLean being seriously injured after she was swept into the sea there are still no lifebelts at Eyemouth beach although Scottish Borders Council say a review is underway, to address the issue of water safety in the town, as well as a full report into the incident by themselves and the emergency services.

Eye witnesses who saw the drama unfold on June 4, when 14 year old Katie was knocked off the sea wall while trying to save friend Tempany Sylvester, were stunned to find that there weren’t any life rings in close proximity and one resident, Brian Judd, has taken his concerns to Scottish Borders Council, puzzled as to why neighbouring Coldingham Bay has three life belts yet Eyemouth beach still has none, the nearest ones being on Harbour Road.

“The incident on June 4 certainly highlighted the need for a lifebelt close to the beach,” he said.

“I’ve been told that there used to be a lifebelt near the beach but it was removed as it kept being vandalised.

“I’m sure young people in Eyemouth, in the wake of what happened, are well aware of the consequences of tampering with one and should any one vandalise a lifebelt there’s CCTV in the harbour anyway.

“It’s a no brainer for me particularly when there are three lifebelts at the beach in Coldingham. Scottish Borders Council have a duty of care and I want to know why something hasn’t been done since, to improve people’s safety.”

There are currently 12 lifebelts around the harbour in Eyemouth, which are the responsibility of Eyemouth Harbour Trust, and Brian said he thought a similar stance should be taken at the beach.

And while not addressing the issue of lifebelts specifically, a spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said it was working both internally and with residents to minimise the risk of any incidents in the future.

They commented: “We wish Katie well with a full and speedy recovery following what was a very distressing incident.

“The safety of our residents is always our priority and we are taking this incident very seriously.

“A review is underway to assess water safety in Eyemouth. This will inform a council-wide approach to ensuring the best possible way forward is established for water safety across the region.

“We would like to reassure residents that we will be keeping the public informed of the progress of this work. In the meantime, we will continue to work with local communities and parents to increase awareness of local resilience arrangements through our resilient communities initiative.”

East Berwickshire Councillor Jim Fullarton also highlighted the need for more preventative measures, commenting: “I share the concerns after the accident at Eyemouth.

“I know that a detailed report is being compiled by the police, SBC Emergency Team, and all blue light services. It will consider lifebelt provision and some form of warning when tide or storm conditions prevail.

“I think that we should wait for that report to be completed to be aware of all the issues.

“Sadly there were issues with vandalism to safety equipment in the past and the quick thinking of the rescuers on June 4 ,with no thought of their own safety, has to be praised. It is sad when accidents happen but we must make sure that nothing is overlooked and try to prevent it happening again.”