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RNLI: ‘Lifeboat debate ignores our hard work’

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CALLS to decide whether to continue using the RNLI or enlist the services of the newly formed independent service are ‘divisive’ and ignore the hard work of the charity’s volunteers, the RNLI have said.

Sir Philip Bailhache

In a statement, the organisation said that their volunteers had launched their vessels seven times this year and were already providing a service from two locations across the Island.

Earlier this month, Guernsey’s Harbourmaster, Captain Chad Murray, was appointed to provide a report on the breakdown of relations between the former St Helier crew and the RNLI before next month’s States debate.

However, critics have claimed that he is unlikely to be impartial because of his working relationship with the RNLI and Ports of Jersey.

In response, Senator Sarah Ferguson lodged a proposition asking for an independent committee of inquiry to investigate the removal of the George Sullivan all-weather-lifeboat by the RNLI in November last year.

Senator Sir Philip Bailhache has since lodged an amendment to her proposition, effectively changing the committee’s remit so that it instead investigates the circumstances behind the breakdown in relations leading to the vessel being taken back to the organisation’s headquarters in Poole. He also requested that Chief Minister Ian Gorst select a suitable chairman and members to head the inquiry. He said: ‘The prospect of two all-weather lifeboats operating in Jersey’s coastal waters is absurd. There is a need only for one.

‘Either the aspirations of the newly formed Jersey Lifeboat Association should not be supported or the RNLI should be requested to assign its local assets and responsibilities to the new association.’

The proposition is due to be debated on 20 March.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the RNLI said they were dedicated to providing a dependable and effective service.

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‘We hope our continued efforts to rebuild the service from St Helier and the hard work of over 100 volunteers including crew, station management and fundraisers, demonstrate this commitment.

‘St Catherine’s lifeboat station has continued to operate without any interruption. The St Helier lifeboat is on service and has already completed several successful rescues, crewed by local people and RNLI staff, who continue to train new and existing Jersey volunteers.’

She added that the charity had recently set up a new RNLI lifeguard support centre at Beaumont ahead of their return to the beaches on 30 March.

Last week, the Jersey Lifeboat Association announced that it had put down a deposit to buy a £100,000 former Isle of Wight RNLI vessel but it is not known when it might come into service.

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