Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lifeboat Bill Warning

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lifeboat Bill Warning

Article excerpt

Byline: By Dave Black

Town faces huge expense to go solo, says RNLI

A seaside town might have to raise up to pounds 2m and generate a further pounds 250,000 a year if it decides to provide a replacement for its axed all-weather lifeboat, it was claimed yesterday.

RNLI and coastguard bosses have warned that Blyth in Northumberland will be taking on a huge financial burden if local people back calls to buy and run a replacement for the offshore boat Windsor Runner, which was withdrawn last weekend.

RNLI officials say it would cost about pounds 2m to buy a new all-weather lifeboat, pounds 250,000 a year to run an independent lifeboat station and cash would also have to be found to equip and train a crew.

In addition, local volunteers running the independent service would have to prove to the coastguard that the lifeboat was capable of providing an effective, round-the-clock emergency service before it would be called out to incidents at sea.

The scale of the potential costs and problems facing the community were spelled out by the RNLI yesterday, in advance of a public meeting in Blyth next week which will discuss the possibility of launching a fundraising drive to buy a new boat.

Last night local campaigners disputed the RNLI figures and said they were already looking into the possibility of buying a second-hand all-weather boat for Blyth from elsewhere in the UK.

Anger has erupted following the decision to withdraw the Windsor Runner, leaving the town with only its inshore lifeboat. RNLI chiefs say the bigger boat has been used on average only nine times a year and Blyth can be safely covered by offshore boats based on the Tyne and at Amble. However, locals insist lives could be put at risk by the cutback as the Tyne and Amble boats could not be relied upon in certain weather and tidal conditions. …

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