Plea to keep out the river to Durham Gala goers

A scene from a previous Big Meeting in Durham.
A scene from a previous Big Meeting in Durham.
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Big Meeting marchers are being urged to keep out the River Wear as police warn they will take action against troublemakers.

Durham Constabulary has issued the advice ahead of tomorrow’s event, which will see thousands of people head to Durham for a day to celebrate mining heritage.

Safety is a huge issue for the authorities, especially after recent tragedies in Durham and at other locations along the Wear.

Durham Constabulary

The river warning comes after the deaths of three of the city’s university’s students, whose bodies were recovered from the Wear after they went missing on nights out.

Sope Peters died in October 2013, Luke Pearce in May 2014, and Euan Coulthard in January this year.

The tragedies, along with the death of Bill Grant, from Cleadon, who died in February after falling into the water as he helped train a team of rowers when he became unwell due to heart problems.

Tomorrow’s weather is forecast to be dry and could be as warm as 23°.

The force’s Facebook plea says: “If you are heading into Durham tomorrow for the Miners’ Gala, please don’t be tempted to cool off by jumping into the river.

“Safety is a huge issue for the authorities, especially after recent tragedies in Durham and at other locations along the Wear.
“If any of our officers see activity they consider to be dangerous, reckless or disorderly then they will act.

“If they have grounds for believing alcohol is a factor, people may be arrested for being drunk and disorderly in a public place if it prevents someone causing harm to another person or suffering physical injury to themselves.

“Behaviour which causes alarm or distress to others can also result in offenders being asked to move on and leave the area.

“Please don’t do anything foolish or put yourself at risk, we want people to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Big Meeting and have a great time in this wonderful city.”

Tomorrow’s gala will be the 131st and will see hundreds of banners and brass

Durham Miners’ Association secretary Dave Hopper open the speeches at around 1pm.

He will be followed by speakers including Guardian columnist Owen Jones, teachers’ union NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates, Fire Brigades’ Union general secretary Matt Wrack, and train drivers’ union ASLEF president Tosh McDonald.