It must not happen again – agencies to take action to prevent further deaths at Alton Water

Matt Dunnett, who died after jumping off a bridge into Alton Water

Matt Dunnett, who died after jumping off a bridge into Alton Water - Credit: Archant

New safety measures will be put into place to prevent a repeat of a tragic drowning at Alton Water, near Ipswich.

That’s the outcome of a meeting of a variety of organisations following the death of Ipswich man Matt Dunnett, 22, at the reservoir last month. The news comes as Matt’s loved ones prepare to say their last goodbyes at his funeral today.

Albert Collins is chairman of Tattingstone Parish Council and said the issue of people jumping from Lemons Bridge into Alton Water, where swimming is banned, has been a long-standing one.

“It’s been something that’s been going on for quite a while to try to persuade youngsters not to jump from the bridge,” he said.

“We have had several efforts in the past but we have said it would probably take a tragedy like this to try to do something more.”

Now Anglian Water, owner of the reservoir, Suffolk Constabulary, the fire brigade, the local highways authority, the parish council and South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge have all met to decide on new action in an attempt to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

More graphic signage and additional shrubbery to make it harder to access the water bank are two measures mentioned by Mr Collins.

And he said it was needed after watching what happened just hours after Mr Dunnett’s death.

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“The reaction of the youngsters the following day when they were putting their tributes on the bridge, some of them were jumping in as a tribute,” he said. “That underscores the fact it is an activity they feel want to do and if they continue there could be a similar accident.”

Jake Williams, head of recreation for Anglian Water, said: “One family has been devastated by the loss of a young man in our region this summer – we intend to continue working collaboratively with this group to prevent this happening again.

“Anglian Water has already enlisted the independent health and safety expertise of RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), which will be reviewing the specifics at Alton Water and will make their professional recommendations to the group.

Mr Cartlidge added: “The priority must, of course, be to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again, but we also have to give the local community a voice in how we go forward to try and prevent further such incidents.

“With likely hot weather ahead of us potentially tempting more young people to the bridge and water below, it was generally felt that immediate action was required and to this end I hope that Anglian Water can bring forward plans for new signage on the bridge with suitably stark warnings within a month.”