A strategy to reduce drowning deaths in Stockton has been backed to go before council leaders.

A fresh “water safety policy” was backed of the adult social care committee on Tuesday in a bid to prevent deaths and injury at open bodies of water in the borough.

The council has decided to update its risk assessment for no fewer than 35 bodies of water on the back of safety campaigns and studies by ROSPA and the Local Government Association (LGA).

Cllr Jim Beall said there was a large amount of water in Stockton which was often forgotten about.

He added: “The one thing about this piece of work is it focusses on it.”

Figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) show the number of people drowning in the UK has fallen since the mid 1980s.

The report, which will go before Stockton Council cabinet on Thursday, also calls on some old bylaws in its new strategy to ensure people are kept safe.

Bathing where a notice is displayed on the river can risk a fine up to £1,000 under the 1993 River Tees Barrage and Upstream River Bylaw.

And another 25-year-old bylaw states: “No person shall within 200 metres of any street or public place, unless effectually screened from view, bathe from the bank or strand of any water, or from any boat thereon without wearing a dress or covering sufficient to prevent indecent exposure of the person”.

Cllr Evaline Cunningham and Cllr Barry Woodhouse
Cllr Evaline Cunningham and Cllr Barry Woodhouse

Cllr Evaline Cunningham wasn’t a fan of its wording.

She added: “I don’t think it needs to be a dress. It should not be a dress.”

“I’m not wearing a dress,” added Cllr Barry Woodhouse.

Cllr Beall said there’d be another long process to go through if they wanted to change the bylaw.

He added: “This is just a lift from the bylaw and that was the language used at the time. I don’t think anybody in this room was responsible for it.”

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