Help shape the future of closed Bawsey Pits

A bunch of flowers placed at the entrance to Bawsey after Tuesday nights double tragedy.

A bunch of flowers placed at the entrance to Bawsey after Tuesday nights double tragedy.

West Norfolk residents will have their say on the future of the closed Bawsey Pits where two people died in one day this summer.

Owners Sibelco says the time is approaching when decisions need to made about the 500-acre site and is asking for the community’s help.

The car park to the former quarry has been closed since July following the deaths of 41-year-old Ryan Pettengell, of Lynn, and Umar Balogun, 16, from London.

Bawsey Pits, which was designated as a public space 30 years ago by Norfolk County Council, is popular with dog walkers and families but it has seen a number of deaths along with issues with vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

Sibelco will be running a public consultation in the spring and wants to hear ideas of what could happen to protect the area and the people visiting.

Resources director Gary Stringer said: “At the time of these two tragic deaths we said then that what was needed was a community solution.

“We established an informal focus group and have been listening to the thoughts of the parish and county councils, the police and other interested parties.

“Several ideas have been tabled ranging from developing the site as a conservation area to improving its management through a degree of commercial activity such as holiday lodges.

“We must not forget that there have also been ongoing problems with vandalism, anti-social behaviour and litter.

“Security staff have been employed in the past but not only is there a cost to consider with that but the people doing the job were coming in for an unacceptable level of hostility.

“Under the current planning conditions we are obliged to keep Bawsey Pits open to the public.

“If that is what people want then we need to hear how they think we can do that in a safe and sustainable way.

“Rest assured, this is a matter we have taken seriously for many years and not one we are looking to walk away from.

“We intend to launch a structured public consultation this spring and call now on everyone to start thinking.

“As far as I’m concerned we have a blank canvas so let’s be imaginative and work together to deliver a way forward.”

Swimming is forbidden at Bawsey, which was a sand extraction site and inherited by Sibelco from Hepworths, due to thick vegetation.

In 1969 a teenager drowned there and in 1995 a 31-year-old man fractured his spine after diving from a rocky ledge.

Tragedy struck again on July 16 when Mr Pettengell and teenager Mr Balogun got into trouble while swimming.

Friends of Mr Pettengell were forced to watch helplessly as the 41-year-old battled in vain.

Norfolk’s coroner is due to conclude inquests into the men’s deaths in the new year.

Details of the public consultation will be released next year. Ideas can be sent to Nicola Cole, resources administrator, via nicola.cole@sibelco.com




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