As MPs considered the consequences of the hot weather, Minister Kit Malthouse revealed that fires caused by the heat had consumed 41 properties and generated the busiest day for the fire service since World War 2. The Minister also revealed that there had been 13 drowning incidents as people seeking the cool by entering the water and then finding themselves in difficulty.
Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price paid tribute to the fire fighters at Wennington and used the occasion to remind the House how dangerous the Thames is. She said, “I associate myself with the comments made by all the hon. Members who have paid tribute to the emergency services who fearlessly tackled the challenges, particularly the fire at Wennington, which generated a smoke cloud that spread across the whole of east London and Thurrock. That showed just how challenging it was. I would particularly like to draw my right hon. Friend’s attention to the River Thames. He mentioned drowning incidents, and for many years it has been challenging for the Port of London Authority to encourage local authorities to do their bit on drowning prevention by raising awareness of just how dangerous the River Thames is as a waterway and also by ensuring that there is sufficient safety equipment. Will he take this opportunity to remind local authorities to work collaboratively with the PLA to address that.”
In reply the Minister said “My hon. Friend is quite right to say that the Thames might look like an innocent retreat from the heat, but beneath the waves there are strong currents and we often see people get into difficulty therein. She raises a good point about the PLA and I will take that away and see what more we can do to co-ordinate the work of the PLA and the riparian authorities.”
Speaking afterwards, Jackie said “The Port of London authority looks after the River Thames and I pay tribute to the PLA for all the work it does on drowning prevention. Local authorities alongside the River could do much more to support them and I encourage them to do so.”