Children’s fears could drown in ‘algae-infested’ lake

A councilor called for additional police patrols in the “algae-infested” lake before a child was injured.

Cally Gale fears it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or drowns, after the hot weather tempts teenagers to jump into the lake at the new Bellway housing development.

The lake is covered in what looks like algae
The lake is covered in what looks like algae

The mother urged the developer and police to work together to help prevent the accident at the site in Tiltman Avenue, Greenhithe.

Cllr Gale (Con) who represents Greenhithe and Knockhall at Dartford Borough Council, said: “The developers actually have a legal responsibility to ensure the Keep Away signs are clearly placed around the lake on their land.

“They had agreed to order some signs but said they could take up to eight weeks to arrive.

“They also said they would send security patrols out on weekends.”

Cllr Gale is very concerned about the dangers of what he describes as a “poisonous mud pool” next to the lake.

Dartford Borough Council Member Cally Gale
Dartford Borough Council Member Cally Gale

“Children can catch various kinds of diseases there,” he said. “It’s just a puddle. It was full of algae, probably chemicals from the site and the smaller pool is muddy mud.

“I checked and there is no ‘do not enter’ sign.”

He added: “I really hope no one gets hurt. I know it may seem like a fine play but these things can go horribly wrong, usually for the youngest participants.

“They can get sick from algae or chemicals. It’s murky. They can’t see what’s at the bottom or how shallow or deep it is.

“They can get stuck in the reeds. Someone could drown.”

Lake on Tiltman Avenue, Greenhithe
Lake on Tiltman Avenue, Greenhithe

Young people are said to congregate in large groups at night after the site has closed.

Cllr Gale demands increased police patrols at the time.

A Kent Police spokesperson said: “Kent Police are aware of a recent incident of a person entering a lake near Tiltman Avenue, Greenhithe.

“Officers are working with partners and site developers to prevent this, including increased use of patrols in the area.”

Inspector Nicholas Grainger, of Dartford’s Community Safety Unit, said: ‘With warmer weather, longer days and school holidays fast approaching, there may be a temptation to enter open water to cool off.

“However, by doing so, people expose themselves to dangers, some of which are invisible. We ask that you stay safe by staying out of the water and calling 999 if you see anyone in trouble.”

“Dangers in open water are not always easy to see, such as water polluted by pollution or chemicals…”

The RNLI Gravesend issued a warning about the dangers of swimming in the lake as the weather warms up and people look for easy ways to cool off.

Water safety officer, John Robinson, said: “Open water attractions or wild swims in cool rivers, lakes or open water areas may be very exciting on hot summer days, however entering the water must be considered carefully as the potential risk of harm or loss could very serious.

“It may be very hot, but open water areas are usually much cooler, and ‘cold water shock’ is a very real hazard that can quickly lead to failure to use the arms and legs to stay afloat or swim effectively. .

“Those who enter the water should also consider the potential dangers of being submerged in rivers, lakes or open bodies of water, which can easily trap swimmers or cause injury where the underwater hazards may be sharp or jagged.

“Other hazards in open water areas are not always easy to see, such as contaminated water due to pollution or chemicals getting into the water, this can cause serious and sometimes long term health complications.”

If someone is having trouble near the coast or the Thames, call 999 or 112 and ask the lifeguard. For inland lakes, contact Kent Fire and Rescue Service.

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