Bid to promote tombstoning into Solent

PLANS South Parade Pier, viewed from Spitbank Fort. Picture: Paul Jacobs '(122364-16)
PLANS South Parade Pier, viewed from Spitbank Fort. Picture: Paul Jacobs '(122364-16)
General manager at the Royal Maritime Club in Portsmouth, 

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SAFE facilities should be provided to allow people to ‘tombstone’ into the sea, a community leader has said.

Leon Reis, vice-chairman of East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum, said the facility could be provided at South Parade Pier.

Mr Reis is spearheading a group of residents who are looking to buy the pier for the community.

It comes as the attraction’s operating company – SPP South Coast Ltd – is in the middle of a financial crisis, with questions about who will run the pier long-term.

Mr Reis said that jumping into the sea could take place in deep water and be supervised by lifeguards.

He said: ‘It’s a good idea because it immediately spins off all sorts of other ideas, such as the possibility of annual Portsmouth Tombstoning Championships from multi-level high platforms, and providing talent spotters and coaches on the lookout for the next generation of potential British Olympians.

‘Bird-men could use such a platform too – what a tourist attraction and televisual spectacle against the Solent backdrop.’

The dangers of tombstoning hit the headlines in 2008 when former soldier Sonny Wells, from Waterlooville, was paralysed after jumping from South Parade Pier.

Inspector Greg Moore, who covers Southsea, said: ‘Police recognise that there are a range of personal views on this issue.

‘We have not been consulted about this proposal so cannot comment further on the detail.

‘However, people need to be aware of the risks to themselves and others from jumping into shallow water where there may be unseen hazards. The coastguard says there have been 18 deaths linked with tomb stoning in the past six years.’