River death parents welcome lifebelt changes

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Christopher SpiersImage source, Margaret Spiers
Image caption,
Christopher Spiers died after he fell into the River Clyde in 2016

A couple whose son died after he fell into the River Clyde have welcomed the installation of rescue ropes to lifebelts along the water's edge.

Christopher Spiers, 28, fell into the water in Glasgow city centre after a night out in January 2016.

Although police were able to throw in a lifebelt, there were no ropes to have another go when it did not reach him.

His parents Duncan and Margaret have been campaigning to improve safety along the river.

Image source, Margaret Spiers
Image caption,
Margaret and Duncan Spiers have been campaigning for better safety equipment at the water's edge

Christopher had been out in the city centre with two friends but was making his way home alone to his partner's house in Kinning Park, south of the river.

He reached the Tradeston Bridge, also known as the Squiggly Bridge, just before midnight but found it was cordoned off due to the storm.

His mother Margaret told BBC Scotland's John Beattie programme that part of a building had been damaged and police were in attendance on the other side of the cordon.

She said her son walked down to the river bank and tried to climb the Heras fence to get access to the bridge.

He slipped and fell into the water.

Image source, Margaret Spiers
Image caption,
Police tried to save Christopher Spiers but the lifebelt did not reach him

His father Duncan said: "The police threw the lifebelt and he could not catch it and there were no ropes to pull it back in."

Christopher's body was recovered from the river two days later.

Mr and Mrs Spiers launched a campaign to get ropes put on lifebelts so there could be repeated attempts to throw them.

Image source, Margaret Spiers
Image caption,
Glasgow City Council agreed to put ropes on lifebelts and have started to do so

Glasgow City Council has announced an action plan on river safety and has started to provide ropes for lifebelts.

The work will be carried out by volunteer lifeguards from the Glasgow Humane Society.

They can be contacted on social media if members of the public see lifebelts which are missing or damaged.

It also pledge to improve signage warning of the danger of deep, cold water.

Mr Spiers said he wanted MSPs at Holyrood to extend this to all Scotland's waterways.

In August 2016, a mother and her young son died after getting into difficulty while paddling in the sea off Aberdeen.

A safety review said all lifebelt equipment on land owned by the local authority should be inspected weekly and inspections recorded.

New signage was also added to equipment giving details of who to contact should the lifebelt be missing or vandalised.

Mr Spiers said if the measures were implemented across the country it would save lives.

"It could help to save another family going through what we are going through, which is horrific," he said.

"You live with this every day of your life.

"I don't want people to suffer the way that we are."

His wife called on vandals to "think again" before wrecking lifebelts.

"It could be one of your family or friends who end up in that water for whatever reason," she said.

"If someone sees a person in the water and there is not a lifebelt right there in front of them then they need to go and search for one.

"To steal or vandalise safety equipment is wrong, please don't, leave it alone."