Blackpool & the Fylde coast is without doubt a popular seaside resort, it may not boast the capacity crowds that typically filled the 7 miles of Golden Sand but there are plenty of visitors still coming for the attractions (averaging around 10 million- source Blackpool Evening Gazette).
However, this figure is set to grow to an estimated 85 million by 2016 (source Lancashie/Blackpool tourism) as local investment in regeneration & capital projects such as refurbished Tramway and Sea Defences aims to make the resort a bigger attraction.
The ‘Big’ question is: “Will the number of Seaside Tragedies increase?”
Any accidental death is one too many, but statistics will point to a potential rise in this type of incident due to increased visitor numbers. If Liverpool Coastguard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) is closed down, as currently planned, then this will add a far more dangerous catalyst to the situation, as life expectance in the sea on Fylde coast can usually be down to minutes at the most.
Many areas of the coast are difficult for visitors to recognise as the promenade & sea defences are quite uniform in construction, so the four main references are usually the Tower and one of the three piers. Local knowledge is paramount when it comes to HM Coastguard pinpointing the exact location of each incident, any delay in this process by other Stations or the proposed National Call Centre (Maritime Operation Centre) on the South coast will result in greater loss of life!
The headlines below echo the sad fact that people are at risk when they visit the seaside, the risk cannot & should not be increased due to a Government cost saving!
“Drowning tragedy as man is swept off sea wall The Evening Gazette, Tuesday 5 April 2011
EYEWITNESSES described their horror after seeing a man swept to his death off Blackpool Promenade.”
“Body found amid sea search for teen The Evening Gazette, Sunday 4 October 2009
A BODY has been found as police and the coastguard called off the search for a reveller who fell into the sea at North Promenade. ”
“Teenager drowns at sea after rescue effort off Blackpool pier The Guardian, Thursday 29 July 2010
14-year-old boy, believed to be from Northamption, drowns off Blackpool pier after going swimming with large inflatable ring. ”
I have tried to obtain facts & statistics on a yearly basis but at the time of going to press, I have not been able to get any (ongoing).
I did however get the following quote from H.M Coroner for Blackpool & The Fylde District
“It would be potentially disastrous for the Liverpool Coastguard station to close”
There has been an approximate 1 or 2 drowning(s) in the sea each year on the Flyde coast, the most significant tragedy was on 5th January, 1983, when a visitor drowned after going into the sea to rescue his dog. In an attempt to save the man, three Police Officers also drowned. This disaster resulted in stricter guidelines for all Police Officers called to any coastal incident, and highlighted the need for properly equipped specialist rescue teams to be on the scene in the shortest of possible times. There is also a worrying trend of people coming to the coast to take their own lives; three known in recent years, according to the Coroner.
We are an island with great seaside towns and fantastic, varied coastline that millions of people enjoy each year. Can we afford to close 50% of the Coastguard Regional Rescue Centres? There are many ways to make our shores safer; accidents do happen and it is immoral to reduce the chances of survival, for what is a very small cost-saving in closing Coastguard stations and their vital local knowledge.
The real impact here is on the families and communities affected by tragic deaths of this kind.
Please support the campaign to keep Liverpool MRCC open & all the other stations at risk (50% of Regional MRCC’s set to be closed).
PLEASE SIGN – epetitions.direct.gov.uk/
Written by Coastal Joe