November 27, 2020

Gate and signs to be erected

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Chief Inspector Robert Scotland

The Public Works Department this week will build a gate and post warning signs, blocking access to the chief cliff-jumping site near Pedro Castle in the wake of two recent drowning deaths.

Built across the road and path at the entrance to the cliff-jumping site near Pedro St James, the gate will restrict public access

“It’s in predominantly one particular area, about three-quarters of a mile past the last house on the road, where it becomes a dirt track,” said Bodden Town Chief Inspector Robert Scotland.

“The road is on private land and the owner, with the National Roads Authority and Public Works, will erect a gate and ‘no trespassing’ signs. It’s a sort of public-private partnership,” he said.

At a Friday meeting in the offices of the Tourism Attraction Board (TAB), Mr Scotland and his Bodden Town deputy; Marine Unit Inspector Clive Smith; Pedro St James‘s Carson Denny Ebanks; TAB CEO Gilbert Connolly; Port Authority security officer Joseph Woods and a representative of the property owner at the cliff-jumping site gained approval for the gate and signposts.

Mr Scotland was unsure about costs, but said they were likely to be shared between Public Works and the owner, who he declined to identify.

“Public Works has the materials, and the emails to initiate construction have been done, so it will be commenced by Public Works this week.”

He said the gate was likely to be between 12 feet and 15 feet wide, sufficient to block the road and extend into the foliage on either side, and high enough “to serve as a deterrent and a visible reminder that this is private property.”

The move comes in the wake of the 26 December drowning death of Justin Henry, 16, and the similar demise on New Year’s Day of Adam Rankine, 21.

“Education is the key,” Inspector Scotland said. “During an investigation, you find out just how popular this is. It is not, let’s say, a rare occurrence. People have been engaged in this in the past, and while it’s one thing to go into the water when it’s calm, when it is rough, you get a sort of toilet-bowl effect with the currents.

“We ask people to exercise common sense, to use good judgement.”

A second meeting among officials will design a public–education campaign in schools and through the media to discourage people from jumping into the water in the area, but legislation, he said, was another matter.

“Building a barrier and posting warnings is a good idea, a good step, but if someone wants to bypass the barrier and signs,” Mr Scotland said, “police could do little.”

While legislation “might be an option, the problem is enforcement. We are usually notified of these things afterwards, and if you ban jumping in one place, it just moves to another one.”

Limited police resources would be “stretched” to provide a permanent police presence on the cliffs, he said.

“Education is the only effective way to reach people”, he said. “We are finding more people getting into difficulties there, so we will discuss that, but it has to be district wide. We will visit schools,  general assembles, sitting down with young people, explaining the dangers of doing certain things. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.”

 

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