Campaign success for parents of tragic teen Sam as council agrees to fence off reservoir bridge

Campaign success for parents of tragic teen Sam as council agrees to fence off reservoir bridge

By Michael Upton | 24/11/2021

Campaign success for parents of tragic teen Sam as council agrees to fence off reservoir bridge


ROTHERHAM Council will install new fencing at an open water swimming hotspot after talks with the campaigning parents of a tragic teenager.

In a meeting with Sam Haycock’s mum and dad Gaynor and Simon and fellow campaigner Jodi Ryalls, RMBC also committed to adding new life-saving throwlines and warning signs at Ulley Reservoir, where 16-year-old Sam (below) died in May.

Simon said the council and emergency services officers had also been receptive to his plans for a new system to replace the current one under which throwlines are secured by padlocks, which he says causes critical delays in life-or-death situations.

A “grab and go” set-up using some form of alarm system is being developed by Sheffield University.

Simon, of East Dene, said the meeting at Riverside House last Monday with RMBC officials and police and fire service officers had been “very productive”, adding: “They’re going to sit down with us and see how we can improve things.

“We are close to getting the alarm system design, but we can’t put it in place without their help.

“Everyone in the room agreed that the system currently in place is flawed.

“You need to get a code from 999 — it can take eight minutes for a 999 call to be answered and it takes less than three minutes to drown.”

Simon said: “One bit of progress is on the bridge. The council have said they have authorised the money and are going to be working with the fire service to design railings or something that is going to stop people going in the water from that bridge (above).”

He added: “There are also little bits of car park where people are congregating, and these are going to be filled in with plants and bushes and have yellow lines painted.”

Simon pointed out brambles in front of a throwline board next to the bridge across the reservoir had been so overgrown two months after Sam died the life-saving equipment had been obscured from view.

“We have photographic evidence that the throwline station was overgrown and neglected.

“It took us numerous emails and discussions to get the grass cut back to a point that it can now be seen from the bridge.

“Either they have got to get rid of the brambles and bushes altogether or place the throwline on the bridge or somewhere else it can be seen.

“They have also told us they have acquired some funding to put some more throwline boards up all the way round and more signage.”

Tom Smith, RMBC’s assistant director for community safety, said: “We look forward to continuing to work with the Haycocks to build on what’s already been done over the years, and since Sam’s tragic passing last summer.

“To deter groups from gathering near the bridge at Ulley we have agreed new parking restrictions, which will be implemented in the new year.

“A new parapet barrier is also to be installed, which will make it far more difficult for anyone to jump from the bridge.

“Along with colleagues from the emergency services, the council will be working with the Haycock family to explore alternative systems that might enable throwlines to be released more quickly, while still protecting this vital equipment from vandalism, theft and tampering.”