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Lifeguard Funding Could Be Caught In Council Cuts

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7:02am 28th October 2014

Lifeguards in Cornwall could face a quarter of a million pound cut in funding from the council.

County Hall is considering slashing the amount of money it pays patrols.

It wants private beach owners and the National Trust to help fund them instead.

It comes just days after three people lost their lives at Mawgan Porth - where there wasn't anyone on duty.

Four teenagers managed to make it ashore safely.

Patrols had finished at the end of September, although other beaches are still being covered over half term.

Local MP Stephen Gilbert said: "There is a debate about whether you can have lifeguard cover across the whole year or whether it should be the summer season. What is the summer season? And how do we help those people who may want to go into the water in winter months when the conditions could be more challenging, but far fewer people are using the sea?

"Today is a day for doing whatever people can to help the friends and families.

"Of course we do need to look at whether our beaches can be made safer but the harsh reality is that, sometimes, our natural environment is a very changeable and very dangerous place. We should see what we can do - but there are no easy answers for these things."

Holly Philips works at Seaton beach cafe and called for cover to be extended, rather than funding cut. She said: "It's really important. There are kids in the water, all year around. We still see people in here now in wetsuits, surfing. I think it's really important to have lifeguards everywhere really."

Geoff Brown from the council said: "We've got a very, very difficult budget situation we're facing, trying to save £196m.

"We're in talks and we're still in talks with the RNLI about the possibility of reducing that funding because, at the moment, our funding covers not just Cornwall Council owned beaches but also privately owned beaches and ones controlled by the National Trust.

"We're hoping we can reduce our commitment but still provide exactly the same service.

"There is no intention whatsoever to reduce the service on the Cornish beaches."

7:02am 28th October 2014

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