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Action on Kennet and Avon Canal safety after death of three-year-old Dylan Milsom in Newbury

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River Trust forming Water Safety Partnership with council and emergency services following tragedy

Dylan Milsom
Dylan Milsom

A Water Safety Partnership could be established to help prevent further tragedies in Newbury’s town centre canal and river.

The news comes after the death of three-year-old Dylan Milsom, who fell into the water by Ash Bridge on Saturday, March 13.
Dylan and his mother, Shelley Nardini, were rescued and taken to hospital, but Dylan died hours later.

An urgent investigation into his death has been launched.

More than 5,000 people have since signed a petition calling for the weir where he died to be fenced off. And the Canal and River Trust, which owns the land and sluice, has now said it has spoken to West Berkshire Council and other agencies to try to establish a Water Safety Partnership.

A trust spokesperson said: “Our sympathy and thoughts continue to be with Dylan’s family.

“In the days since his tragic death, we have been speaking with the council and other authorities to propose that we establish a Water Safety Partnership which will bring together the relevant agencies, including the police and fire brigade, to work together to make the canal through Newbury as safe as possible.

“The trust regularly undertakes risk assessments for the popular visitor areas along our canals and, in light of this tragedy, we are conducting an urgent investigation to identify any immediate measures which could improve safety along this section of the canal.”

West Berkshire Council leader, Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen) confirmed the council was in talks with the trust about making that stretch of canal as safe as possible.

She added: "We were deeply saddened to hear about the death of Dylan and send our condolences to his family.

"The canal is a popular feature in Newbury, and we want people to enjoy it and feel safe while they do so. Earlier this week we met with the Canal and River Trust and agreed to look at forming a Water Safety Partnership to look at how we can work together to ensure the stretch of canal through the town is as safe as it possibly can be.

"We will also be looking at what water safety advice we can deliver, for example through our schools, to highlight this important issue.

"We will be progressing this as quickly as we can, and will work with partners to identify and implement any urgent works which are necessary.”

Newbury MP Laura Farris has also asked for a meeting with the trust to discuss safety measures.

The stretch of water through the town centre has seen a number of fatalities in recent years.

DONATIONS continue to come in to a fund raising money for the funeral of Dylan.

An anonymous friend of the family has set up a GoFundMe page to help them pay for the funeral and people have donated more than £5,900 so far.

The page states: “I know this tragic accident has touched the hearts of everyone within this community, and if we could take any amount of the pain away, we all would in a heartbeat.

“If anyone could donate any amount that they can to help his parents give him the send off they all deserve, it would be much appreciated.

“On behalf of his parents and all of Newbury, you will always be in our hearts.”

You can donate to the fund at www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-a-beautiful- little-boy

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