'I couldn't believe what I was seeing' - furious council leader warns.people to stop meeting up and jumping into the water at a packed-out Harborough district reservoir

Cllr Phil King said someone will be killed sooner or later as he told people trying to stay cool to stay away from Saddington Reservoir
People jumping into Saddington Reservoir yesterday (Thursday June 25). Photo by Andrew Carpenter.People jumping into Saddington Reservoir yesterday (Thursday June 25). Photo by Andrew Carpenter.
People jumping into Saddington Reservoir yesterday (Thursday June 25). Photo by Andrew Carpenter.

A furious council chief has warned.that people jumping into the water at a packed-out Harborough reservoir in the mini-heatwave are putting themselves in danger.

Cllr Phil King said someone will be killed sooner or later as he told people trying to stay cool to stay away from Saddington Reservoir, near Fleckney.

He spoke out after over 500 people from all over the area are estimated to have visited the picturesque Canal & River Trust attraction on Thursday.

They headed there after over 200 made a beeline for the beauty spot on red-hot Wednesday.

The crowds set up barbeques, mingled in large groups and drank alcohol in sunshine as the thermometer nudged 30C (86F) on the hottest day of the year.

Stunned Cllr King, who leads Harborough District Council, told the Harborough Mail: “These scenes are absolutely shocking.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

“It’s just a matter of when not if somebody is going to be seriously injured or killed at Saddington Reservoir.”

He added: “We see the same thing every hot summer.

“Little Johnny or Jane jump into water, immediately get into trouble and suffer a life-changing injury or die.

“We have a lot of young people who aren’t working due to the Covid-19 lockdown and thousands of kids who are off school.

“They are bored – I get that.

“They want a big knees-up and the hot weather seems to drive them crazy.

“But they are playing with fire indulging in this sort of insane behaviour – and they are taking their lives in their hands.”

Young men and women, as well as teenagers, have been pictured hurling themselves off the boathouse into the murky waters at Saddington Reservoir.

“They are taking so many risks it’s untrue. The water’s very cold and they could go into shock after leaping in,” declared Cllr King.

“It’s dirty and they could easily pick up a nasty infection, such as the really horrible Weil’s disease.

“They could smack their heads off objects floating around in the water.

“So the bottom line is this – if you value your life don’t risk it.

“I’ve got three kids and there’s no way they would be going there.

Parents also have a responsibility to warn their children it’s just wrong, reckless and dangerous to do this.

“And, if needs be, they should stop them going.

“Saddington Reservoir is also private land.

“It’s not a leisure site or open to the public.”

The Conservative council leader also stressed that huge public gatherings risk sparking a second wave of deadly coronavirus.

“It’s sheer madness.

“These party-goers get together with no social distancing at all before rolling home to see their parents, families and older relatives,” said Cllr King.

“If only a tiny minority of them are sick then before we know it we’ll be tackling another shattering local outbreak of the virus.

“And that would be devastating – for the local economy, for the NHS and, most of all, for families as the death count goes up once more.

“I don’t want to get a call from the Harborough Mail telling me that there’s been a tragic fatality at Saddington Reservoir.

“Just imagine if you are the mum or the dad receiving a call from the emergency services to say that your son or daughter’s been killed.

“It doesn’t bear thinking about.

“I’m also hoping that the Canal & River Trust will be acting to make Saddington more secure so that these mobs can’t just walk in there.

“But my message to anyone tempted to venture on to the reservoir and jump in the water is simple – stay away.”

The Canal & River Trust is also exhorting people not to swim in canals, rivers, reservoirs and other open waters.

“We share Cllr King’s concerns and have been shocked at the way people have behaved at Saddington this week," said the Trust.

“They’ve shown a total disregard for the safety of themselves and others as well as leaving large amounts of rubbish behind that we, a charity, have had to pick up.

“We’re carrying out an urgent review into safety at the site and as part of this we would be very happy to speak to Cllr King to discuss our respective concerns.

“With the nation basking in soaring temperatures, and with swimming pools still closed due to coronavirus, the charity is warning that people taking a dip in their nearest waterway are risking their lives.

“The warm summer months are the most popular times for people to visit Britain’s canals and rivers.

“However, if anyone is thinking of going into the water, please don’t.

People can get into difficulties after jumping into the water to cool down.

“Canal and river water will be very cold, even in the summer.

“That can take your breath away and paralyse your muscles, making it difficult to swim - and it will often hide dangerous obstacles or currents.”

Phil Mulligan, regional director for the Canal & River Trust, said: “It’s particularly alarming that people are drinking before taking a dip as research shows that nearly a quarter of all adult drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream.

“We want to remind people that taking a dip may be tempting but the consequences can be devastating.

“Inland waterways can look really inviting but you can’t tell what is below the surface.

“The water is often murky - and you won’t be able to see the depth or any obstacles in the water.”