New restrictions after ‘significant concerns’ about open water swimming around Porthcawl harbour
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
Further restrictions on open water swimming at Wales’s busiest inshore lifeboat station have been approved.
Bridgend County Borough Council’s (BCBC) Cabinet members this week approved newly proposed byelaws for Porthcawl Harbour aimed at improving the safety of swimmers.
The changes to the byelaws, which have been in place since 1953, include prohibiting access to the sea via the RNLI launch ramp and the creation of a new deep water entry point.
Corporate Director of Communities, Janine Nightingale said that there were a number of “significant concerns” surrounding safe swimming in and around the harbour following a public consultation.
At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Ms Nightingale said: “What we are now asking people [to do] is to access [the water] via the concrete steps on the side.
“There were also a lot of [calls] for a second access to the water.
“What we are looking at developing now is a set of steel steps and a platform, which will take you further along the promenade and allow you, at high tide, to get into the water safely away from the harbour itself.”
Cllr Charles Smith said: “The key message I came away with was that the new byelaw will discourage people from entering the water in the path of the lifeboat and swimming in the path of shipping going in and out of the harbour.
“But, we have got potential on the eastern side of the breakwater for something like a metal ladder and a floating platform, which will enable people to enter deep water straight away.
“To be able to enter deep sea water directly like that will be quite unique to Porthcawl.
“There won’t be another destination, as far as we are aware of, along the South Wales coast where that can be done.”
He added that it will be “another feather” in the cap of the seaside town.
‘Risk of being hit’
A consultation report revealed that the three most common problems at Porthcawl Harbour according to survey respondents were “swimmers, abusie fishermen casting close to swimmers and boats and no boat lifting”.
Respondents also said they would like to see more signage to promote awareness and safety around the harbour.
Cllr Stuart Baldwin said: “What we are doing is encouraging open water swimming [in] Porthcawl, but we are making sure that we protect people by [reducing] the risk of being hit.
“Boats are moving in and out of that marina all the time. We have to make sure that we are protecting people.”
Council Leader, Huw David said: “I am very happy to support the recommendations for those reasons and we will make every effort to make sure that there is cls continues to be offered but in a different way that keeps people safe.
“We know that the RNLI centre [here] is the busiest in Wales and we don’t want to add to that.
“We want to reduce the risk of people getting into very serious trouble.”
The approved revised byelaws will now be presented to full Council for adoption.
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