Witney Lake Incident – Witney Town Council Statement

We are in touch with Nicole’s family and aware of the petition.  The family have been invited to meet with key Councillors and Officers, and we are keen to listen and offer support to them as they try to come to terms with this tragic accident.    

 We completely understand the desire to do something tangible to prevent any further loss of life, and indeed this is our priority too. Given the number of similar flooded pits, rivers and other accessible areas of open water, and the hidden dangers that all of them pose, it feels that the most meaningful course of action is for us to work with the rescue services and schools to roll out an education programme. Hopefully, this will ensure that as many people as possible are aware of the dangers, even to experienced and confident swimmers, and choose safe swimming and water play options instead.

The Town Council is actively reviewing its risk assessment and health & safety in response to the tragic accident to see where additional safety measures can further mitigate risks to the Lake and Country Park users.  We have already increased warning signage at every point where people may access the lake and will be adding different types of signage, including pictorial signage, so that the warnings are much clearer to everyone. We have also instructed an independent health and safety audit to be carried out, in order that we can feel confident our response is as robust as it can be.

As part of our longer-term approach, we will also be looking at the viability of introducing a lido to Witney to provide a safe outdoor swimming space for our town, including talking to other levels of local government to assess how this may best be facilitated, if considered feasible.

The hearts of the community, including every single person who works at or represents the Council are with the family at what must be an unthinkably distressing and painful time, and we do hope to work together so we can all feel confident that any further loss of life in open water is prevented.