Fears raised over children’s safety at flooded Warren Park dam

DANGEROUS Flooding at Warren Park has sparked fears over child safety, and inset, showing the nearby play area
DANGEROUS Flooding at Warren Park has sparked fears over child safety, and inset, showing the nearby play area
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SAFETY concerns have been raised about the flooding of a dam next to a children’s play area.

Community leaders are worried a tragedy could happen at Warren Park Dam unless action is taken.

DANGEROUS The nearby play area

DANGEROUS The nearby play area

Ann Buckley, Leigh Park county councillor, was shocked when she saw a 10-year-old boy testing the water of a lake that formed at the dam after the recent heavy rain.

She believes CCTV is the only answer to keep an eye on children who play nearby.

The £2m dam replaced the dilapidated Giant Steps and is designed to prevent Leigh Park flooding.

Whenever there is a deluge of rain, a lake, up to 15ft deep, appears.

The Environment Agency, which manages the dam, said this is normal as the area is designed to store water.

It is then gradually released through a channel to stop houses downstream flooding.

But Cllr Buckley said it is an accident waiting to happen without more safety measures.

She said: ‘I found a child on his own exploring on the bank and climbing over the fence on to the steps down to the dam. I felt he was in great danger.

‘The boy had no awareness of the danger and saw the water as something to explore.

‘I feel very strongly that a CCTV camera is needed to cover this area.

‘It’s next to a children’s play area and children will explore.’

Cllr Buckley was also concerned as there was no lifebelt at the dam.

One was installed by Havant Borough Council last year, but has been stolen seven times since then.

Ian Tripp, from the Environment Agency, said: ‘When heavy rainfall is expected we visit the site and make sure it is in good operational order.

‘There is a 4ft high perimeter fence around the debris screen that protects the entrance to a culvert the stream runs in as it passes under the residential area. This fence is intended to prevent minors accessing the screen.

‘There are warning signs and diversion routes for residents to use so they can cross the park safely and the local authority provided a lifebelt.’

He said officials had visited local schools to raise awareness of the dangers.

He added: ‘We investigated using the existing nearby CCTV to view the stream but the cameras cannot get a good enough view of the structure. We would ask parents to remind their children of the dangers of playing near water and in particular not to enter the debris screen area.’

Havant Borough Council said the lifebelt would be replaced.