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Coastwatch is feeling pinch
VOLUNTEERS at the NCI National Coastwatch Institute have been stretched to the limit providing a seven-day week watch on the coast, it has been claimed.
Clive Edwards, Lyme Bay station manager said they had always planned to maintain a seven day a week watch during the Olympics rather than return to their normal Friday to Monday shifts but following the fatal cliff fall at Burton Bradstock they have been called on to help keep the public out of danger areas.
Mr Edwards said: “It is the NCI Lyme Bay that has been liasing with HM Coastguard and the National Trust to provide a physical presence near the barriers that have been erected on the beach and the coast path, and it’s our watchkeepers who have been explaining to people, especially holidaymakers, that they risk not only their own lives but also those of the rescue services if they ignore the warning signs.
“In the main, people, especially holidaymakers, have been very understanding and have abided by the signs and our advice, although one or two of our watchkeepers have come in for a bit of abuse from a few aggressive locals who seem to think they know better than anyone else what’s a safe passage and what isn’t.”
The station has 25 qualified watchkeepers.
Mr Edwards added: “We had anticipated returning to our Friday to Monday routine this week. The situation last Thursday has changed once again because the barrier on the beach was swept away by the high tide and strong winds, which have also carried away the barriers on the cliff path at Burton and Freshwater.
“We are now urgently trying to see if we can possibly manage to remain operational on a 7/7 daily basis for the following two weeks until after the bank holiday.
“With so few watchkeepers, and quite a few of those now away on holiday it won’t be easy – our dedicated small band of watchkeepers have already undertaken more than 60 watches since the cliff fall on July 24 so everyone is feeling pretty stretched.”