The lives of eight people have been saved over the last three years as a result of Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) decision to team up with the RNLI to provide lifeguard services on the town’s beaches.
On Tuesday (April 6th) HBC’s cabinet unanimously agreed to approve a further three year contract with the RNLI.
Kevin Boorman HBC’s Marketing and Major Projects Manager told councillors that prior to working with the RNLI, HBC ran its own lifeguard service for a number of years before beginning work with the RNLI on a one year trial contract in 2017; as a result of its success, this contract was renewed for three years over 2018-2020.
Mr Boorman praised the RNLI’s work during the previous contract, revealing from the RNLI’s report that eight lives were saved and 14 people rescued with over 20,000 face-to-face interactions over the three. Mr Boorman called this ‘an incredible achievement for the RNLI’.
He then suggested that HBC should agree another three year contract with the RNLI on the basis that it ‘can provide a much better service’ than the council could achieve on a like-for-like basis.
Mr Boorman explained how the RNLI could provide the lifeguard service at around £20,000 less than the council could and he suggested HBC should agree the contract with the RNLI without going through the normal competitive tendering procurement rules.
Councillor Margi O’Callaghan explained why the council would not be seeking competitive procurement: “It’s cheaper, more effective in terms of equipment; safer… and the knowledge and the skills.” Mrs O’Callaghan also highlighted the education the RNLI can provide to beachgoers to help with safety in the water.
She moved the recommendation saying: “It’s a service we need—let the experts do it” before ending with saying that “it’s something that wouldn’t work so well in-house.”
Cabinet members agreed unanimously that the council’s relationship with the RNLI should continue for another three years.
The 2021 lifeguard season will start on Saturday May 29th (Spring bank holiday weekend). All three stations will have lifeguards daily until Sunday June 6th to cover both the bank holiday and school half term break.
From Saturday June 12th all beaches will have lifeguards at weekends until the start of peak season,
Saturday July 10th. From then they will operate seven days a week until Sunday September 5th.
All beaches will then revert back to weekend cover until Sunday September 26th
The only other issue on the agenda was a short and ‘urgent’ one from which the public were excluded relating to the demolition of the dangerous arches along Battle Road.
Council leader Kim Forward said there was a need to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, with part of Battle Road currently closed and essential safety work being carried out in preparation for the demolition work.
However she revealed that some details could not be disclosed to the public saying that if public were present it is likely there would be disclosure to them of confidential information.
All cabinet members agreed with the decision and the public were excluded, from hearing those discussions.