Author: Oliver Wrynne-Simpson
The RNLI will take New Brighton lifeboat station temporarily off service for several weeks following a dispute with several lifeboat and hovercraft crew volunteers over a new training programme and the station’s management
The charity has decided to stand down several volunteers who have refused to commit to the standards required of all RNLI volunteers, which means that New Brighton will not be able to operate safely in the short term.
Over the next few weeks, RNLI teams will work with the station’s remaining volunteers, offering enhanced training and support, and creating a more positive environment for the crew. We aim to reopen the lifeboat station for a period in August.
We would like to reassure the public that we are confident that the lifesaving service provided by the RNLI to the people of Merseyside and the Wirral will continue to be carried out effectively by RNLI lifeboats stationed at Hoylake, West Kirby and by local lifeguards. The area will also continue to be served by Mersey Marine Fire 1 and we are working closely with HM Coastguard through this interim period.
The station has been affected by a dispute over several issues – the introduction of a new training programme, the station’s management, the outcomes of an investigation into various issues with the lifeboat crew, the attempts to address deficiencies at the lifeboat station and breaches of the RNLI’s Volunteer Code of Conduct. Those stood down are clearly unhappy but they do not represent the views of the majority of the crew, who we are pleased to say want to continue with the RNLI.
We plan to train the remaining crew to the required standard and also ensure they subscribe to the RNLI’s values and codes of conduct, which are critical to the running of a first-class lifesaving service. We will also be seeking to recruit new lifeboat crew to the station.
‘We explored a number of options for New Brighton before taking this step. Closing a lifeboat station, even temporarily, is not a decision to be taken lightly but we are confident that this is the right way forward,’ says Lee Firman, Divisional Operations Manager.
‘The RNLI has a duty of care to its lifeboat volunteers and to ensure that they feel safe, accepted and can volunteer within a welcoming environment. They should also expect to receive the right training, skills and equipment to meet the challenge of saving lives at sea. This is what we will be working with the New Brighton crew to achieve,’ Firman says.
The RNLI expects all lifeboat crew to abide by its codes of conduct and to ensure their skills and training are kept up to date. Where this is not the case, particularly where negative behaviour is involved, the RNLI will not hesitate to intervene and help crew become a coherent, safe and efficient team. The RNLI strives to create a culture within lifeboat stations where crew members can trust each other, and are able to progress and develop into senior roles.
‘New Brighton has a proud history of lifesaving and we are confident that, with the goodwill of the volunteers, the lifeboat will soon be back on service for the people of Merseyside and the Wirral,’ Firman says.
Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
Learn more about the RNLI
For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.
Contacting the RNLI – public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.