A £100,000 cut to the number of beach lifeguard stations will leave councillors with “blood on their hands”, a union has said.
Branch Service Conditions Officer, Richard Woolven, who represents Seafront staff laid out the potential human costs of the cuts: “There are always tragic accidents, and even deaths on the seafront, and these cuts will increase the likelihood of these occurrences. “If this is passed, it will literally leave councillors with blood on their hands. There are few decisions that councillors make that have real life and death consequences, but this is one of those.”
A petition set up by Justine Stephens on change.org says “46 LIVES WERE SAVED (one every 8 days during lifeguard season) including sea rescues, CPR and critical care.
The proposed cuts of £100,000 by Brighton Council will disproportionately cut services to our residents’ family beaches, including Kemp Town beach (yellow wave), the West Pier beach and Hove lagoon.
Family beaches will bear the brunt of closures. The youngest and oldest in society, the less able and weaker swimmers, mainly our children, will be at most risk.
It is highly likely that West Hove, Saltdean, Rottingdean and Ovingdean will see NO lifeguard service in 2023 if the council plans are allowed to pass unchallenged.
Only 4 lifeguard stations are predicted to open in May (down from 7) if the proposed cuts are passed by the council on Feb 23rd.
Brighton Pier, Albion Beach, West Street and King Alfred are reprieved for this year, but beachfront managers fear further station closures are likely in the near future as the service is viewed by the council as “nonessential” despite council papers warning of an “potential increased risk to public safety”.”
The budget report to the Policy and Resources Committee last week, ahead of the budget council meeting on Thursday 23 February, acknowledges the cuts do pose a safety risk.
A council spokesperson told the BBC “We’ve lost more than £100m in government funding over the last 12 years and are currently facing a funding shortfall of around £14m.
“This means we will have to take some very difficult decisions. No decisions have been taken regarding funding for our lifeguards team for this summer and in future years.”
The budget report to the Policy and Resources Committee last week, ahead of the budget council meeting on Thursday 23 February,
The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/save-our-savers-brighton-hove