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With independent lifeboats under pressure to deliver rescue services alongside reduced income, Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely has taken their plight into a Westminster Hall debate calling on the government for more support.

Mr Seely took part in a debate, led by Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall, on Tuesday (13th October) which considered the future of the RNLI and independent lifeboats after the COVID-19 outbreak.

It was suggested by Bob reintroducing the rescue boat grant fund or providing funding for the protective equipment that both the independent and the RNLI lifeboats have had to buy.

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Mr Seely thanked the lifeboat and rescue crews on the Island for the important work they do – particularly this summer, which was one of the busiest crews had seen. He said:

“A lot of people are engaged in helping sailors, swimmers and others who get into trouble at sea, and we on the Island are very grateful to them.”

Combined with the busier-than-ever period, significant fundraising had been impossible this year and Bob asked the Minister to consider additional support.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Robert Courts, said he recognised the reduced income lifeboats had received this year and the impact that the increase in staycations had on the number of operations, as the public flocked to the coast. He said:

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“We have already initiated discussions with search and rescue charities to understand the impacts on their operations, as part of the recovery from covid-19, and we have provided assistance where we can.

“We continue to assess the impact of the pandemic on the provision of search and rescue services.

“If a lifeboat charity is advised that it is unable to respond in these unprecedented times, HM Coastguard will entirely respect that decision and seek to request alternative assets.”

Courts said the future of the rescue boat grant fund was part of a wider review of Government spending that was currently underway, and that the Government would continue to work in partnership with the RNLI – and independent rescue boat charities – to ensure that the impact of the pandemic on search and rescue services could be mitigated as far as possible.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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Karn Evil 9

Good ‘ol sausage Bob. Come on there are far far better things to be campaigning for here on the Island, not something that basically is for the rich. No I don’t own any kind of board, sunseekers etc, but why the hell should we get government help for something like this. How about making sure boat owners have to pay a set amount each year, in case they need this service, that way all pay and help others if they need rescuing. There might be something like that already I don’t know, but don’t ask for cash unless it is… Read more »


I may be out of order here but looking at the Island Echo news over the summer there were a large number of reports of the RNLI being called out to rescue people on flamingos (may have been swans), paddle boards, drunks on RIB’s, jet ski’s stuck in mud etc.etc. I also seem to remember several cases of “stern words” to various boat captains. So until these idiots are made accountable for their actions and take responsibility for their own safety the poor RNLI volunteers will be running around after them forever.

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