Pay to be rescued from Weston-super-Mud!
PUBLISHED: 14:37 06 October 2011
'IRRESPONSIBLE' beach visitors prompted more than 10 rescues over the weekend - prompting Weston residents to call for people to be fined for their reckless behaviour.
Weston sizzled during the hottest October weekend, resulting in tens of thousands of beach visitors. But it also resulted in a huge increase in calls to emergency crews as people ventured out too far or got stuck in mud.
Weston coastguard team, Weston fire and rescue service and the Weston RNLI lifeboat were all called out. On Saturday the coastguard said more than 100 people ventured into the mud - and Mercury readers were quick to condemn those who risked their own lives and those of emergency crews.
We received a number of emails, Facebook comments and website feedback from angry people calling for new rules which would see ‘irresponsible’ people fined for their actions.
Barbara Hudd, of Connaught Place, Weston said: “When I was out on the prom Saturday afternoon you could see hoards of people totally oblivious to any signs of danger.
“Do they get a bill for being rescued? If not, why not? Why is it down to the RNLI and the Coastguard and the pockets of those more sensible among us to foot the bill?”
Pete Maynard said: “I think these people should pay the rescue bill. There is no excuse saying there are no warnings about the mud as I’ve seen them myself.”
Ginny Gould said: “It seems likely that the warning signs that are up just need to be improved, or more of them.
“If that many people are going out there, then the message isn’t getting across.”
Some of the rescues included children trapped in the mudflats and one man refusing to be rescued, which resulted in police action on Saturday night. In addition RNLI lifeboats were called out on 18 occasions.
The Coastguard service has said it is up to local authorities to make changes to the rules.
Watch-manager David Hughes said: “I absolutely agree that there should be more done in making people aware of the dangers, it is the tax-payers which pay the money, but when it comes to fining people, that’s a difficult one.
“Unfortunately it’s down to local authorities to implement these changes. We are here to respond to emergencies, what we can’t do is police the beaches.”
Another rescue service agreed with the Coastguard but fears implementing penalties such as fines could stop people calling for help.
RNLI spokesman Glyn Hayes said: “Just maintaining the RNLI costs £100,000 a year. We need another review of whether there are adequate notices on the beach.
“There is no easy answer, if you bring in fines for rescues this may deter people from asking for help.”
A spokesman for North Somerset Council insisted current warnings are adequate and condemned people who ignore them.
He said: “We have a sign on every entrance to the beach and in the mud every 200 yards saying do not pass this point. Our signage is already well above the specification required and we will not be putting any more in.
“People choosing to walk beyond them are irresponsible and have no regard for safety.”