Tree felling panic

Published: Monday, 19 December 2011

BRITISH Waterways is carrying out a large tree cutting programme following the inquest into the death of Wendy Brennan, writes Allan Richards.

The tree cutting programme follows the issue of 'Rule 43' report by Milton Keynes coroner, a copy of which was sent to British Waterways Operations Director, Vince Moran.

Tragic death

Wendy Brennan, a 61 year grandmother, died last year when on a boating holiday with her son and husband. She was forced under water when a willow tree crashed down onto their narrowboat on the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Hammond, Bucks. Her husband and son were also thrown into the water but managed to drag themselves to safety.

Mrs Brennan was pulled out out the water unconscious by rescuers and resuscitated by paramedics before being taken to Milton Keynes General Hospital. However, her life support system was switched off a few days later when she failed to regain consciousness.

Rule 43

Since 2008, coroners have a wider remit which includes making reports to prevent future deaths. These reports are known as 'Rule 43', and the recipients of these reports must send the coroner a written response within 56 days.

A request to British Waterways has been made under the Freedom of Information Act for a copy of the 'Rule 43' report relating to Mrs Brannan's death and its response to it to be placed in the public domain. To date, it has failed to so and boaters continue to be left in the dark concerning matters related to our safety.

The large winter tree cutting programme was revealed by trustee John Dowell who cited it as an example of British Waterways saving money by using contract staff rather than to prevent future deaths.