Warning over removing lifebelts from Tynemouth Pier
Coastal visitors are being urged not to damage or remove vital life-saving equipment.
Officials at the Port of Tyne say this summer has seen an increasing number of lifebelts disappearing from both Tynemouth and South Shields piers, often being thrown into the water for no reason.
There are 19 lifebelts on both piers to give the emergency services crucial time to respond to incidents by keeping casualties afloat while they come to the rescue. A missing lifebelt could mean the difference between life and death.
Steven Clapperton, director of health and safety and environment and Marine Harbour Master, said: “Although the lifebelts are put to proper use by the majority of people, the hot weather and school holidays see an increase in them being thrown from the piers for no reason.
“Lifebelts are vital lifesaving aids and the key piece of equipment which keeps people who have ended up in the water safe until the rescue services can get to them.”
The lifebelts, which are fastened to the piers at 100m intervals, are checked each time the Port’s pier watchmen do a patrol, several times a day.
The Port of Tyne receives no funding to help with the upkeep of North and South Piers and invests £200,000 in pier maintenance each year.
The Port is also reminding river users that a speed limit of six-knots is enforce on the River Tyne up-stream from the Herd Groyne lighthouse.
The warm weather has seen a rise in the number of Jet Ski and other small high-powered boats enjoying the river.
Steven said: “We want people to enjoy using the river for recreational use, its vital river users do so in a safe and responsible manner in order to avoid accidents.
“Exceeding the six-knot limit is classed as anti-social behaviour – it could seriously endanger you and those around you.”
In an effort to combat irresponsible behaviour the Port of Tyne will be undertaking a number of harbour patrols as well as working with the Northumbria Police Marine Unit.
Meanwhile river users are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Port of Tyne General Byelaws – freely available to download from the Port’s website.
Anyone who repeatedly abuses the speed limit can expect to face criminal prosecution and a fine.
Jet Skis and speed boats are encouraged to make use of the designated Fast Craft Zone, located upriver from the Redheugh Bridge and Newburn Slipway, in which the six-knot speed limit is relaxed.
However, river users are still expected to travel at a safe speed at all times and have regard to other vessels and their proximity to hazards.