Development the way forward for lagoon

Landowner says leisure facility will stop trespassing and make tragic site safer THE Blue Lagoon has an infamous past associated with tragedy, a burden its owner farmer Tim Wilson would like to lose. Last Thursday, July 27, was the fifth anniversary of th

Landowner says leisure facility will stop trespassing and make tragic site safer

THE Blue Lagoon has an infamous past associated with tragedy, a burden its owner farmer Tim Wilson would like to lose.

Last Thursday, July 27, was the fifth anniversary of the drowning of three small children, passengers in a car that plunged off a cliff into the water of the lagoon.

Just over a year ago, a Luton youth was drowned after jumping from a boat.


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Yet young people continue to be drawn like a magnet to the lagoon and the recent heatwave has seen the place as busy as a seaside beach on some days.

Yet their pilgrimage to the site in Arlesey is illegal. Only members of the sailing and angling clubs have the right to entry across the fields to the lagoon. All other people who reach the lagoon are technically trespassing.

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Mr Wilson, who owns the 106 acres with the 25 acres of lagoon at its core, has perhaps, unfairly, in the past been painted as the landowner who has done very little to stem its notoriety.

At the weekend Mr Wilson visited the sailing club at the lagoon and watched as children and adults swam illegally on his land.

This week Mr Wilson talked exclusively to The Comet about his feelings and personal plans for the lagoon saying development was the best way forward to making the site safer to prevent further tragedy.

"People remove chains and cut off padlocks. I cannot police my property," said Mr Wilson.

"Yes, people go there but they are technically breaking the law. Unfortunately, I farm over a wide area and can't be there all the time. Nor can the police.

"If the public don't comply with my wishes then we will have these tragedies. The lagoon is not a public park and is private yet people were still there at the weekend when I was up there on the anniversary of the incident back in 2001.

"My long term ambition is still to build a leisure facility at the lagoon and pay for it with residential development. But for this I need support from Mid Beds District Council.

"I believe leisure and residential development is ideal for the site and would help make it a safer place. It is a beautiful site and lends itself to residential and leisure facilities."

Two weeks ago a grass fire threatened crops, a fire that was almost certainly started deliberately.

"I cannot be held responsible for what goes on at the lagoon. I am prepared to put forward a solution but it needs the council's support," added Mr Wilson.

"I have a living to earn growing food for people to put on their table. I certainly couldn't employ private security to police the site.

"Some people have said I should fill the lagoon but I do not believe that is a sensible option.

"Other people point out there is no life saving equipment there. If it was, how long would it last? It would be vandalised so when a poor chap needed it the equipment wouldn't be there.

"A leisure complex and development is the best way forward. And I would appeal to anyone contemplating going there to stay away."

Arlesey Community Safety Group is again urging people to steer clear of the lagoon saying another tragedy is just waiting to happen.

"Some nights all you can hear are sirens of emergency vehicles going up to the lagoon," said local councillor and group member Ian Dalgarno.

"People start arriving at around 2pm and they are still there at 10pm when it is getting dark. Cars are parked all over the place and with alcohol being consumed a tragedy will almost certainly happen again.

"We have an intolerable situation. It is impossible to police, and nobody has ever been prosecuted for trespassing, the barriers are a waste of time because bolt cutters were used to cut off the padlocks recently."

Cllr Dalgarno added: "I am sure most people in Arlesey would just like to see the lagoon filled in. It is a headache that won't go away until something positive happens."

A spokesman for Bedfordshire police said: "We work closely with the lagoon safety group to try and find solutions to the problems. It is worth remembering it is private property and although the police will always attend emergency calls, overall safety of the site is the responsibility of the landowner."

Police also revealed that in July they had a dozen calls to the lagoon to tackle rowdy youths, youngsters swimming, a domestic dispute in which a woman was assaulted, criminal damage and theft from vehicles.

The fire service says it also attended the lagoon several times during the month to deal with grass fires.

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