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Man, 33, critical after cliff fall

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: July 27, 2009

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FURIOUS demonstrators will march on County Hall tomorrow to demand action to rid Newquay of its seedy image, after a stag night reveller became the fourth casualty in a month to plunge down cliffs.

Angry Newquay residents will urge councillors in Truro to "restore law and order" in the resort, which has become a magnet for raucous stag and hen parties, as well as binge-drinking teenagers celebrating the end of school exams.

The protest comes as a 33-year-old man is treated for "life-changing" injuries after he plummeted down the rock face at Tolcharne beach in Newquay – the same location where 16-year-old Paddy Higgins died on July 6.

The youngster's family has now launched a campaign, calling on teenagers to boycott the Cornish town, amid fears on safety issues, policing and the sale of alcohol.

The "unprecedented" spate of incidents began on June 28 when 18-year-old Leeds Rhinos rugby academy player Andrew Curwell, from Saddleworth in Lancashire, fell to his death after a night out celebrating the end of A-levels.

Within days, a 16-year-old student broke his neck in a plunge. It is thought he may have been on the rocks all night before he was discovered.

Yesterday, Dave Sleeman, chairman of Newquay Town Residents Association, said the situation was "out of control".

He added: "We have had so much trouble in this town and we're so fed up with what's taking place. The town council is taking no action, but we want our town back under control."

Members of the association will travel on a double-decker bus from Newquay to march on County Hall at Truro at 10am tomorrow. They will present a petition, which they hope will bear up to 2,000 names, calling for "immediate action" to "restore law and order".

They will also demonstrate at Newquay Town Council's offices at the next full meeting on August 5.

Mr Sleeman blamed the problems on marketing which attracted revellers to Newquay's nightlife, and it drove away the traditional family holiday market.

Newquay's MP, Dan Rogerson, will join tomorrow's march. He said: "Unfortunately, Newquay has slipped down the direction of attracting a certain form of tourism, without there being any debate about that being the best way to go.

"The balance can be redressed, but all the organisations involved need to do their duty, both to residents and tourists, in turning this around."

The latest casualty was reported to police just after 5am on Saturday. The man, from Hampshire, was staying at a local campsite in a group of 15 friends celebrating a stag night.

He was first spotted at the bottom of the rock face by a security guard, who alerted the Coastguard. He was airlifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

Police are now trying to piece together his movements in the time between bars and clubs closing and the security guard raising the alarm.

It is not known how long he was lying at the bottom of the cliffs.

The casualty's wife was informed of the incident and she travelled from Hampshire on Saturday.

Inspector Dave Meredith, of Newquay Police, described the fall as yet another "tragic accident".

He said police were able to speak to the casualty, who was conscious, who told officers he fell off the cliff face.

Yesterday, it remained unclear how far he had plunged, or whether he landed on sand or rock.

Insp Meredith said: "From wherever he fell, it's quite high there. It's possible he bumped his way down, and he could either have landed on sand or rock."

He added that the injuries appeared "life-changing, but probably not life-threatening".

Police are investigating whether alcohol played a part. Insp Meredith said: "It would appear that he had been out enjoying the nightlife in Newquay with a group of friends."

He accepted that revellers drank heavily on nights out in the town, but added: "At this stage, we can't say whether alcohol was a factor in every case, but we do warn people against the dangers of consuming alcohol and going near the cliffs, especially after dark."

He said police, businesses and the council were working together to tackle binge-drinking, and to change perceptions of Newquay.

He said: "We certainly want to improve Newquay's safety record next summer.

"That's a long-term project, with all of Newquay involved, but the short-term issue is that we have had these four falls – two fatalities and two serious casualties – in under a month, and it's unprecedented."

Cornwall Council is currently carrying out a safety review, and risk assessments along the clifftops, with a particular emphasis on Newquay.

But leader Alec Robertson said yesterday: "You can't fence off every inch of cliff around Cornwall, but we need to get people – and not just youngsters – to behave more responsibly. They have got to take responsibility for their own safety.

"There's a need to get that message out to people before they come here."

He believed Newquay had been sensibly marketed by official organisations, but said there may be an issue with some businesses which needed to be addressed.

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    LES, Hampshire  |  August 07 2009, 2:12PM

    So a decent, hard working, tax paying, intelligent family man enjoys a break wiith friends in a locality which is totally an unknown location to him and his friends.. This location just happened to be literally a few feet away from where a fatal tragedy took place and the life of yet another young man was lost,,only days previous, .What a coincidence? Just ponder on that for a second. No, I mean, within a few feet. Consider the miles of coastline and cliffs....then consider a few feet....thats , say 40 or 50 inches..or 2 metres.....thought provoking, isnt it? And ofcourse this gentle giant of a man, who, all alone , in the dark darkess, fell 80 feet...and then he was unable to help himself, alone in the sand....and in agony...sheer agony.... It also has to be considered that the event leading to this recent tragedy, is to date, unknown, Speculation by media is assumed, with no factual evidence. It should be remembered that the recent victim was alone when he fell, and he , and only he knows the truth. .This wonderful, caring man is adored for being a special person, always keen to help others. But his best attribute is that he is a wonderful family man, a doting husband and father, his wife and children are his life and keep him motivated ,Ohh...and children are so missing him, and dont really understand where he is or why he cant talk to them... . and for those who may be interested, he is fighting for his life, and amazing doctors by his strength. We are all praying for his survival and know his determination to live has kept him with us so far. Perhaps you will send messages on here for his family which are positive in their hour of need, they would be so appreciated. Finally, my thoughts go to all those other victims and their families , wishing a speedy recovery to the survivors and peace and empathy offered to all at the very sad times in their lives.

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    Alison Round, Flint, Wales  |  August 01 2009, 1:00PM

    Our family visited Newquay every year for two weeks for over 40 years and a member of our family actually married into a Cornish family. I love all that is fantastic about Newquay and Cornwall...a very special place. When my children were little, we revisited Newquay for several years, until a particularly rainy week tempted us abroad. Even as a child, I remember stories of night time incidents with tourists and always felt very sorry for residents who have problems with parking, traffic, noise, vandalism and crime. My sister now lives in Weymouth - and accepts that during the holiday season, the price they pay for living in such a beautiful part of the world is disruption caused by visitors to the town. A recent visit to Llandudno saw two "residents" who had to walk around a visitor just off a coach, deciding which direction to walk in, complaining loudly about tourists thinking they owned the place, when they themselves were clearly not from the towm themselves and just walked out of the benefits office (I will make no assumptions, just the facts) Of course alcohol and rowdy behaviour have everything to do with the problems in Newquay and other seaside towns. Not to forget any other area where anti-social behaviour causes inconvenience to residents. No-one deliberately goes out to end up with a broken back or worse. The recent government adverts make this point very well - but does anyone really thing about that when they are being "cool" going out drinking night after night? I feel this issue is all to do with respect - respect for oneself, for friend, relatives and strangers. The only way this will be resolved is with a complete change of attitude. I don't know what the full answer is - maybe it'll be generations before things improve. It won't change by itself, that's for sure....it must be everyone's responsibility to work together to find a solution...so that everyone can live safely and happily.

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    Reg, Portugal  |  July 30 2009, 11:56AM

    oops, rhetorical (spelling) question. My age you know.

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    Reg, Portugal  |  July 30 2009, 11:55AM

    Sasha, who says I live here? I would always fight the corner of the under paid, at all times. I am glad you love your job - maybe your employment is somewhat different to those in the "tourist industry" where they have to work at low paid jobs and are unable to aspire, or given the opportunity to aspire, to better things. are you one of the "luckier" ones I ask myself? Rehtorical.

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    Sasha, Lizard  |  July 30 2009, 10:59AM

    I do not know why my comment has been removed! My only thought is is because I was actually making a point and also a opinion!!! I am sorry to disapoint you Reg, but I have worked for a tourist attraction for many years and yes the pay is not brilliant, but I love my job. My point is anywhere other than britain treat their holiday makers with curtious. I take it that's why you live in Portugal? and not here!

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    Reg, Portugal  |  July 29 2009, 6:23PM

    Sasha, without tourists you wouldn't be taken advantage of by being paid peanuts by the unscrupulous out-of-towners who own the seasonal businesses who take their gains out of county end of season. I would much rather see local businesses open all year round and employ the locals on proper rates of pay - proper day's money for proper day's work. Yes/no?

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    Kevin, Berkshire  |  July 28 2009, 6:51PM

    Nobody sets out to have an accident but Newquay seems to be the hot spot for them at present. The Police do a fine job and will no doubt find out exactly how this men fell off the cliff. People should not judge until they no the facts and the one sure thing that is fact, people keep falling off cliffs in Newquay.

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    Mark, Plymouth  |  July 28 2009, 6:40PM

    Everyone seems to want to blame somebody else here. It's the governments fault for building motorways. It's the councils fault for not putting up fences. etc etc Yes it is sad that these people have been hurt or lost their lives but ultimately they are to blame. They choose to get drunk. They choose to climb over safety features. They choose . . . . The speed the cliffs are eroding the fences would need to be replaced every few years anyway. At the end of the day, the tourists bring money into Newquay, if they didn't, as stated, the town would effectively become a ghost town, as it is in winter. You complain when they don't come, you complain when they do. You can not have it both ways. I have personally been to Newquay many times on a night out, as well as most major cities in the UK, and never been hurt nor known anyone to be hurt. Everywhere has dangers when people are hammered drunk, but ultimately the buck stops with the individual. Until we shake this blame culture and nanny state, this country is heading downwards fast.

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    Dave, Truro  |  July 28 2009, 2:47PM

    2 words Personal responsibility If you drink beyond your limit and then have an accident, no one is to blame but yourself

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    Elizabeth, Hampshire  |  July 28 2009, 1:53PM

    Well perhaps Newquay should change its strategy and stop pitching for this type of business. The businesses in the area are driving this behaviour. - and another thing the B&B that we stayed in had no PAT testing on appliances, no smoke detectors and I think the building layout would have been questionable when it comes to building regs. - seems to me there is a general problem with safety in Newquay not just the natural hazards and the drinking behaviour!