Plans by the ruling Conservative Group at County Hall, to axe the lifeguard service in Newport, have been branded as negligent by the Independent Group of Councillors whose members represent seaside wards all over the Island.
Average cost of one fatality estimated at £1m
A spokesperson for the group, Cllr Chris Welsford said "Tourists rightly expect a safe experience when visiting our main seaside resorts: Ventnor; Sandown; Shanklin and Ryde, however the lifeguard service was founded in Newport and has always had the best record for safety for beachgoers on the island."
"The Island has an average of 305 incidents each year but none have been recorded in Newport for the past twenty-five years. In part this may be attributable to the stellar training Newport lifeguards receive in first aid and rescue techniques however others say one cannot overlook the lack of nearby beaches in Newport as a direct cause for the lack of any swimming fatalities in the capital."
Welsford says that while all value the contribution made by Newport lifeguards he acknowledges their success in lifesaving over the years has also caused a certain degree of complacency.
"Due to the lack of incidents as direct result of the absence of any beaches in Newport all but one of the lifeguards now on duty there have lost the ability to swim, many are nearing the age of retirement and proficiency in swimming is no longer a requirement for new recruits."
"The contribution of Newport lifeguards goes beyond water related activities and includes attending community events to provide warnings, advice and prevention as well. We are asking Cllr Brown to listen to what we are saying about the dire consequences of such cuts and think again."
This press statement came in today on behalf of the Independent Group of County Councillors regarding the Isle of Wight council's proposed cuts to lifeguard service in Newport