Weston RNLI hopes to build new lifeboat station at Cove Restaurant
PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 April 2018
Weston-super-Mare RNLI is pinning its hopes on the Cove Restaurant site to house its new lifeboat station after years of delays, and the town raising hundreds of thousands of pounds towards the building.
The charity, which has been without a permanent home since leaving derelict Birnbeck Pier in 2014, has announced it is a step closer to securing a permanent base for its volunteer teams.
There are still legal hurdles for the RNLI to jump through, followed by further surveys – but the restaurant, by Marine Lake, is its preferred site. As a back-up option, it is also considering Crazy Hills golf course in Knightstone Road.
The RNLI has investigated 14 sites since 2007, and has found it difficult to find an ideal spot because of the tidal range. The Cove option has only come to light recently.
Lifeboat operations manager Mike Buckland said: “We have all been on a tough journey. I have been one of the most vociferous people on the team probably, not necessarily being as complimentary to leadership [at RNLI HQ] as one might have been.
“If we pushed and argued the case and got more feisty one year ago or five years ago, when getting more frustrated at the lack of progress, we would not have been in the position to get what we are hoping to get now. Sometimes things are meant to be.”
The RNLI’s fundraising for a new station started in 2013 when the situation at Birnbeck became too dangerous, but donations declined last year because of the lack of progress.
The crew has been operating out of what Mr Buckland described as a ‘tin can’ by Marine Lake when he spoke at the charity’s annual meeting on Tuesday.
As well creating a purpose-built station, if the RNLI finalises a deal on the Cove, a slipway will need to be installed, to give the charity as close to 24-hour access to the water as possible.
At present, its larger Atlantic lifeboat can only be launched for two hours either side of high tide.
John Deas, the RNLI’s head of external construction and refit, said the new station was a priority for the charity.
If and when the RNLI takes control of the site, it will still need to carry out surveys and investigations for the slipway and station, and Mr Deas did not want to estimate how long it may take.
With a station potentially on the horizon, fundraisers are starting to gear up for a fresh appeal towards the new base.