Group left high and dry as base is blocked off

Members of the North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards found access to their base closed off by workmen.

Members of the North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards found access to their base closed off by workmen.

0
Have your say

A lifesaving organisation has been left high and dry after council officials failed to provide alternate accommodation in time.

North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards (NSVL) has been forced to temporarily cease operations at its base on the Central Lower Promenade in Whitley Bay.

North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards during a training exercise before they had to temporarily cease operation.

North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards during a training exercise before they had to temporarily cease operation.

The site is part of North Tyneside Council’s £36m seafront masterplan, with work due to begin imminently to demolish the lower promenade.

The organisation, established in 1998, was the last remaining tenant on the promenade but found itself denied access by workmen on Saturday.

Officials were told in March that the council would provide temporary accommodation on Tynemouth Longsands by May but they are still waiting.

The group, which teaches children and wider community water safety and lifesaving skills, is now storing equipment in garages.

We can’t function as a club at the minute so we’ve had to stop all our activity for now.

Donna Robson, secretary and trainer

Donna Robson, club secretary and one of the trainers, said: “Although North Tyneside Council have promised us alternative accommodation, nothing has materialised. For the last few weeks we have been forced to run our sessions out of a base with no running water.

“At times, we have been struggling to keep our heads above water.

“We teach over a hundred children from the local community valuable lifesaving skills every week. We also run vital training for lifeguards, and deliver courses to other local community groups.

“The junior members train every week and it’s the same for the lifeguards but we’ve had to knock that on the head for now. We packed everything up in preparation to move then it hasn’t happened.

Young members of North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards.

Young members of North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards.

“We’ve been fobbed off. There’s been occasions when we have contacted the council and it’s fallen on deaf ears.

“We’ve not been able to get hold of people. We want to know when we can move into the temporary accommodation, that’s going to determine the future of the group.

“We can’t function as a club at the minute so we’ve had to stop all our activity for now.”

A council spokesperson said: “The North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards carry out excellent work with our young people, and we have worked closely with the group for many years.

“The group should have been able to access their base on Central Lower Promenade at the weekend and it is regrettable that they couldn’t.

“We have apologised to the group and are working to find out what happened.

“We are also working hard to progress work on their Tynemouth Longsands beach base, so they can use it as quickly as possible.

“We’ll continue to keep in close contact with the group and keep them updated with progress.”