Warleigh Weir owner urged to reopen despite safety concerns

Johnny PalmerImage copyright Andre Regini
Image caption Johnny Palmer says people have left rubbish and defecated at the site

The owner of a popular wild swimming spot has been told he should reopen to the public, despite safety concerns.

Johnny Palmer fenced off the single entrance to the Warleigh Weir Project near Bath in Somerset on 24 May due to his fears “someone would get killed”.

He said Bath and North East Somerset Council (Banes) has insisted he keep the site open because it is a public right of way.

The council has been approached for comment.

Mr Palmer said his main concern was the “dangerous parking” on the A36, which leads to the only site entrance, but people had also been leaving rubbish and not adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Warleigh Weir, also known as Claverton Weir, is popular with swimmers.

With other public spaces or play areas closed during lockdown, the site has seen increased footfall – and what Mr Palmer describes as the “wrong kind of people”.

There have been widespread cases of littering at beauty spots and public spaces in recent weeks as warm weather coincided with an easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Palmer said there were people coming to the spot who “don’t understand things like there not being a car park there”.

Image copyright Johnny Palmer
Image caption Mr Palmer has fenced off the single entrance to the site

“To shut a public right of way completely goes against my moral compass and was a criminal act but on balance is the right thing,” he said.

“If [Banes] enforce a notice I will remove the fence straight away, but at that point morally it is all on you if someone gets killed on the A36.”

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: “The decision to close the weir is the landowner’s.

“We have been attending when the weir has been opened to engage with people there.”

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