‘It only takes one child to slip – it’s easily done’

Joyce Lawrence by River Ouzel Leighton Buzzard
Joyce Lawrence by River Ouzel Leighton Buzzard

A pensioner says she won’t sit back and wait for someone to get hurt so will keep pushing for a fence to be put up alongside the river in Linslade.

Joyce Lawrence, of Sandhills, is calling for a fence along Riverside Walk, which runs from Leighton Road, next to Townbridge Mill, down the side of the River Ouzel and is used by hundreds of people every day.

Following the news of Neil Devlin, whose body was found in the River Ouzel in February, Joyce contacted the LBO with her concerns.

The 65-year-old, who used to live at Townbridge Mill until last August, said: “When I moved I was determined to live a quiet life, but sadly cannot sit back when I see things that need to be done and people’s safety is at risk.

“You hope others will step forward, but todays attitude seems to be it’s not my problem and wait for someone else to step forward.

“I have suggested on Facebook that someone get a petition to have a fence put up for safety along the bank as it is really steep and when it floods I have seen the water nearly up to the bridge.

“Although we will never know what happened to Neil this would have been part of his route home and it is also unlit so very dark at night.

“In the interest of safety, a fence does need to be erected there as it would make it safer for people using the path especially young children.

“It only takes one child to slip – it’s easily done.”

While living at her former home Joyce fought to gain access via the front gates for those living in the rear flats, obtained a petition for further building to be halted until a proper entrance was in place from Vimy Road and was instrumental in getting a footpath reopened in 2010 that had been closed ‘temporarily’ six years previously.

Because of her efforts and sorting out the garden and organising social events for those living in the flats, Joyce was awarded an Unsung Hero reward in 2011 from Catalyst Housing Association.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency Anglian Region said: “We are unaware of any campaign to erect a fence along the River Ouzel at Linslade.

“As a rule we only fence off Environment Agency structures to protect the general public from any moving parts or potentially dangerous mechanisms. “Erecting fencing to prevent people from accessing rivers would be neither practical nor desirable and in some cases could prevent people from getting out of the river.”