Pressure mounts to bring lifeguards to town beach after year of planning

A surf rescue board on Sidmouth beach. Ref shs 27 19TI 7133. Picture: Terry Ife

A surf rescue board on Sidmouth beach. Ref shs 27 19TI 7133. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Pressure is mounting to bring lifeguards to Sidmouth beach – but the lifeboat service has been told it must make a ‘long term commitment’.

The district council, which owns the beach, is worried it might have to foot the bill in future years unless funding for 10 summers can be guaranteed.

Sidmouth Lifeboat says it is confident a solution is in sight.

At Monday's town council meeting councillors urged EDDC to not 'stand in the way'.

Councillor Ian Barlow, said: "They (EDDC) are going to get hung if something happens down there (the beach) and there isn't one (a lifeguard) there, when we want to provide one and they won't let us."

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The discussion comes more than a year after Sidmouth Lifeboat first suggested to EDDC it would fund the lifesaving service during the six-week summer period.

The lifeboat has worked with the RNLI to create a beach risk assessment and beach safety report.

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In April the documents were sent to EDDC's beach safety officer for consideration.

A Sidmouth Lifeboat spokesman said the council is producing an action plan, which will detail the size of the service.

He added: "We are conscious that several organisations need to work together to make this happen, and co-ordinating timings of meetings can lead to delays.

"EDDC have asked Sidmouth Lifeboat to demonstrate ring-fenced funding to cover an appropriately sized service for 10 seasons. "Once the size and style of the service is decided, only then can cost be calculated, and an appropriate amount ring-fenced."

An EDDC spokesman said the initiative was welcomed and its beach officer would continue to work with the charity to address any concerns.

The spokesman said: "It is also important that a reasonable period of service guarantee is put in place from the outset to ensure long-term commitment from the charity.

"This is to avoid any future expectation that East Devon would provide the service should Sidmouth Lifeboat be unable to maintain provision after the first year.

"We look forward to hearing back from them, as we are ready to progress our side as soon as they can make a formal service offer."

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