Youngsters putting lives at risk in popular waters in Wigan

Young people who have been using Wigan reservoirs as summer playgrounds have been warned they are dicing with death.

Many have been taking advantage of the warm weather and swimming in Worthington Lakes, Standish, in recent weeks.

Their actions come despite the lakes, on Chorley Road, being banned for swimming and lockdown restrictions on gatherings.

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It has prompted a warning for youngsters not to swim in the “dangerous waters” amid fears of an accident or drowning.

Worthington LakesWorthington Lakes
Worthington Lakes

Residents’ group Standish Voice said it has had several reports of young people swimming in the lakes.

A spokesman for the group said: “The lakes, on Chorley Road, are reservoirs and as well as being very dangerous to swim there, you are not allowed to go in them.

“Water is very cold at this time of year and there is a real risk of accidents or drowning.

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“Please also remember that dogs and cycling are also not allowed at Worthington Lakes.”

They said that police have been informed about the activity by the people who have witnessed it, as well as United Utilities, which looks after the area.

Earlier this month, United Utilities and the Fire and Rescue Services from both Greater Manchester and Lancashire reminded people not to go swimming in reservoirs, which is strictly not allowed due to the hidden dangers and risk of drowning.

Paula Steer from United Utilities said: “The government’s ease of lockdown restrictions is welcome news for many, especially with the current glorious weather.

“But now is not the time to let our guards down.

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“Increasing numbers of people, many of them children and young people, but by no means all of them, are choosing to ignore the dangers.

“Our people can’t be everywhere all of the time and we also have to consider the risk to our own staff in approaching people to warn them.

“I would urge all parents to stress and stress again to young people, that no matter how inviting the water looks, it is deadly.

“The effect of cold on the human body can be sudden and fatal and by the time you realise, it’s too late.”

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Coun Debbie Parkinson, who represents the area on Wigan Council, said she was aware of the issue also and urged people not to swim in the area. She said: “I do think it’s very dangerous and the reservoir is not a safe area to swim.”

Area manager Paul Fearnhead, from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “As always we advise people not to enter or swim in open water – if there is no lifeguard then it is not safe to swim.

“Too many people have lost their lives after getting into difficulties in water – even the strongest of swimmers suffer from cold water shock and can find themselves caught up in objects hidden beneath the water’s surface.

“Please wait for leisure centres to re-open before you think about swimming.”

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And Coun Parkinson said there had been separate problems with a young group of males congregating on waste ground known as The Rook off Bradley Road.

The Rook was the scene of a huge underground fire 15 years ago that blazed for months and residents had to leave their homes due to dangerous fumes.

The Broomfield Tip slag heap was eventually levelled and many people now enjoy walks around the area.

But residents have reported garden furniture being stolen and young people sitting on them in the area and lighting fires and drinking.

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Coun Parkinson said: “The police and fire service had to be called out to this.

“These are young males in their 20s who have also been congregating around King Kong Castle which is an old pit head.

“I know they’re looking for something to do in the warm weather and with the lockdown being eased a little, but their behaviour isn’t appropriate and is still a breach of the lockdwn rules also.”

She added: “The police said they will be looking at doing more patrols of the area and I do think United Utilities need to be monitoring it more also.”

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It comes after a disposal order has been put in place at a disused former East Quarry in Appley Bridge to stop trespassers illegally gaining entry to the site and causing trouble.

People were caught swimming at the quarry while under the influence of alcohol and lighting barbecues in nearby woodland.

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