Friday 3 October 2008

A Picture-Perfect Snapshot Of The Modern UK

A father of two drowned while trying to save the life of a girl floundering in a river.

Leonard Woodman, 37, did not think twice about leaping into the fast-moving water when he spotted the 15-year-old struggling to stay afloat.

There was no life-saving equipment nearby because the local council had removed it following a spate of vandalism, an inquest heard yesterday.
And it gets worse…
He had been walking along the River Colne in Denham Country Park, Buckinghamshire, in May with his partner and children Ronnie, seven, and Maddie, two, when he spotted the teenager in trouble.

The inquest heard how she and her friends had been using a rope swing near the weir.
And still worse…
When interviewed by police the teenage girl who Mr Woodman had gone in to rescue told officers she had seen warning signs about the dangers of the water, but had chosen to ignore them.
And it’s still not finished…
The inquest heard that at the time of the accident, near Double Crescent Weir in Denham Country Park, Buckinghamshire, the council removed all water safety equipment including rubber rings and ropes.

The council had consulted the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, which recommended they be removed.

Roy Featherstone, the council's health and safety manager, said the decision was taken some years before because the area was prone to vandalism and theft.
So, to sum up – a decent family man loses his own life in front of his small children in an attempt to save a 15 year old (who has wilfully put her own life in danger because she has failed to obey the rules), yet the vital safety equipment that would have meant he did not need to risk his life has been removed by the local council due to vandalism.

Presumably, a ‘cost benefit analysis’ assumed that the cost of replacing it or patrolling to stop the vandalism was higher than any potential court case that might be brought on H&S grounds.
The coroner said: 'I do despair on hearing that safety equipment was vandalised, stolen and destroyed, which is a mindless and stupid thing to do and doesn't bear thinking about.'
Note: no criticism of the council for removing the safety equipment, none for the irresponsible, thoughtless actions of the girl, none for the lack of law and order at the Weir that lead both to the situation where vandalism occurred and where out-of-control children could put themselves in danger untroubled by anyone to tell them ‘No’ – just a ‘Oh, isn’t society awful, but what can you do?’ shrug of the shoulders from someone picking up a government paycheck.

Or maybe he said all those things, but was ignored because, unlike other coroners, he wasn't saying what the MSM wanted to hear?

Could this case be a more perfect summation of everything that has gone wrong in the UK?


John B said...

"The council had consulted the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, which recommended they be removed"

D'you not think that, just possibly, RoSPA might have a better idea about the right course of action for the council to take than an Internet loudmouth who's read one Daily Mail piece about the case?

Anonymous said...

A 'better idea about the right course of action'? Does it look that good, in hindsight, to you, then?

If the answer's yes, then let's ask Mr Woodman's kids that same question, shall we...?

John B said...

Hindsight isn't relevant - what's relevant is the best evaluation you can come up with in advance.

"Whether someone actually dies" is an entirely irrelevant metric, since it's based on chance; the relevant metric is "risk of someone actually dying". Which they will have used in this case.

Anonymous said...

"the relevant metric is "risk of someone actually dying". Which they will have used in this case."

Actually, the relevant metric is them thinking 'Well, won't be me who dies, it'll be some other poor sod'.

Like Mr Woodman.

Anonymous said...


1. Function defining distance between two points of a topological space and fulfilling the axioms:

1. d(x,y)>=0 with equality iff x=y;
2. d(x,y)=d(y,x);
3. d(x,z)=< d(x,y)+d(y,z)

2. Also an expression used by po-faced bureacratic lickspittles to give a spurious scientific veneer to thesis that local government can do no wrong.