Improved fencing and lighting are at the heart of a new £230,000 riverside safety scheme in Durham City.
Around 680m of new fencing will be put in place along the River Wear, with much of it between Framwellgate Bridge and Prebends Bridge in the city.The stretch of the river was highlighted as high risk in a city-wide audit by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the bulk of the fencing will be filling a gap between railings, the site upstream of where second year Durham University student Euan Coulthard was found dead on January 23.
A short section of lighting is also set to be put in place on a path near the Bella Italian restaurant.
Funded by Durham University, Durham Cathedral and Durham County Council work on the project will get under way on July 6 and is set to be completed by the Lumiere light festival which gets under way on November 12.
Terry Collins, chairman of Durham City Safety Group, said: “The intention when we started the journey was to make Durham as safe as it could possibly be.
“That would not necessarily mean there will be no further incidents but a hope that there will not be.
“Personal responsibility comes into this as well.
“We’ve had RoSPA in and they’ve identified high risk areas and we’ve taken action to improve the riverside for the benefit of everybody.”
RoSPA were commissioned for the £5,000 report following the death of Euan, who was the third student to be found dead in the River Wear in the city in 14 months.
Following his death a number of initiatives were put in place including education for Durham University students, the return of buses to and from Durham University colleges, and the introduction of breathalysers in a number of bars across the city which will be reviewed in August.
Mr Collins stressed the fencing will be in keeping with the existing railings and added that a natural barrier to prevent erosion will be installed between Framwellgate Bridge and Prebends Bridge where the footpath runs perilously close to the river.
He added: “Where we are now undertaking physical works we have gone to considerable efforts to ensure that the materials used are in keeping with the conservation status of the area.
“We have always been clear that we would do everything we were able to do in support of safety improvements in the city and we will continue to do so.
“Whilst it is impossible to mitigate every risk we hope that together the safe drinking messages and physical works will be of significant value.”
Signage and maps will be installed for a safe lit route along the river in a bid to discourage people from walking alongside hazardous stretches of the water and a display is on view in the Gala Theatre for two weeks from Wednesday morning, residents can pick up hard copies from Durham Town Hall or view the plans online at www.durham.gov.uk/citysafetygroup.