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Brighton & Hove Considers RNLI Takeover for Lifeguard Services

Two options on the table: maintain current management or outsource to RNLI by summer 2025.

Brighton & Hove is exploring a significant change in how its lifeguard services are managed, with proposals to potentially hand over the responsibility to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) by summer 2025.

Every year, lifeguards are crucial in ensuring the safety of both residents and visitors along Brighton & Hove’s 13km coastline, stretching from Hove Lagoon to Saltdean. In response to the need for a high-quality, seasonal service that aligns with both staff requirements and community expectations, the council has initiated a review of how these services are delivered.

Two key approaches are currently under consideration: continuing the current in-house management of the service or outsourcing it to the RNLI. The matter was discussed at the recent meeting of the Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Economic Committee, where councillors moved to further explore these options.

Councillor Alan Robins, chair of the committee, emphasized the importance of the service provided by lifeguards. “Millions of people visit our seafront each summer, and keeping them safe and happy is a huge priority for us,” he stated. “Lifeguards need to respond to challenging and sometimes traumatic events, so it’s essential they have the right training, equipment, and wellbeing support to deal with any situation.”

The lifeguards patrol the city’s busiest beaches from late May through the end of the school holidays in September. Their duties are extensive, from managing emergency responses and monitoring sea conditions to providing first aid and ensuring general beach safety.

Currently, the lifeguard service is managed by the council’s Seafront Team with a budget allocation for the 2024 summer season of £482,193.

The RNLI, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary of saving lives at sea, operates 238 lifeboat stations across the UK and Ireland and provides lifeguard services to over 238 beaches nationwide. This includes several locations in Sussex such as Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Bexhill, Hastings, and Camber Sands.

The proposal to transition Brighton & Hove’s lifeguard services to the RNLI is seen as a potential opportunity to leverage the RNLI’s expertise and extensive experience in lifeguarding, which could enhance the safety measures on Brighton’s beaches starting from the 2025 season.

Further decisions will be made following detailed explorations of the proposed approaches, ensuring that whatever the outcome, the beaches of Brighton & Hove can continue to be enjoyed safely by all.

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