COUNCILLORS have spoken out against a controversial proposal to withdraw Hartlepool’s lifeguards where an eight-year-old boy was swept out to sea.
Elected members for Seaton Carew, where tragic Hartlepool youngster Jordan Moon lost his life after lifeguards had been removed, say the service should not be axed.
It is one of a raft of proposed cuts Hartlepool Borough Council is currently considering as it tries to find £14m of savings over the next two years.
The idea has already been criticised by Jordan’s mum June Hall.
Independent Seaton Carew councillor Paul Thompson said: “I remember that day very vividly. I was in my back garden when the Sea King helicopter flew over and you just knew it was something bad.”
He added: “When you are a town that relies on tourism from the seaside and with the number of people who come to Seaton, we cannot afford not to have a fully functioning lifeguard service.
“We made that mistake 10 years ago and tragically a little boy lost his life.
“There is no price that you can put on a child’s or adult’s life so I would be vehemently against any reduction that compromises the safety of people who live in and visit Seaton.”
His comments were echoed by fellow Seaton councillor Kelly Atkinson, of Putting Hartlepool First.
She said: “From a councillor’s point of view I can see that cuts need to be made but from a personal point of view I would not agree to this service being cut and it is not something I would vote for.
“We have lifeguards for a reason and we have many visitors on the seafront, especially with the regeneration work going on, so I don’t think it’s a wise option to be taking.”
Coun Tom Hind, of UKIP, agreed. He said: “The Hartlepool Vision project will bring a redevelopment of Seaton front which would probably bring a great deal more tourism than in the past.
“I don’t think it’s a very pro-active move to get rid of the lifeguards service. Not to have one seems a bit mean-spirited.”
The withdrawal of the lifeguards, which also covers the Headland between May and the beginning of September, could save the council £100,000.
The proposal will go before the council’s finance and policy committee in October for a recommendations and the full council will make a final decision when it sets the budget in February.