The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 13 July, 2015

Report of the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Beach Lifeguard Service

Purpose of the Report

1.    To advise Cabinet of the existing arrangements for beach lifeguarding and to agree the appointment of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) as the service provider for a further 5-year period from 2015/16.


1.    That Cabinet agree to the waiving of contract standing orders to permit the appointment of the RNLI as a sole provider, to deliver beach lifeguarding services at Whitmore Bay, Llantwit Major, Southerndown and Ogmore beaches between 2015 and 2019.


2.    That delegated powers are given to the Director of Visible and Housing Services to instruct the Head of Finance in consultation with the Head of Legal Services to consider possible options for occupation agreements relating to Lifeguard facilities on Council land /property.


3.    That delegated powers are given to the Director of Visible and Housing Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure services to reevaluate the risks posed at Rhoose beach at the end of the summer 2015 and to amend or withdraw this service as necessary as based on an assessment of risks at this location.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.    To permit the direct appointment of the most appropriate beach lifeguarding organisation for the Vale's major bathing beaches.


2.    In order to ensure good estate management practices are followed.


3.    To ensure that future resources are provided to the beaches that pose the greatest  risk.


2.    Beach lifeguarding for the last 3 years has been provided by the RNLI and the contractual arrangements, managed by Waste Management & Cleansing. Seasonally, lifeguards are deployed to Whitmore Bay, Rhoose, Llantwit Major, Southerndown and Ogmore beaches.


3.    A daily service operates to cover the school holidays and other peak seasonal times during July, August and the first weekend of September.  In addition, an enhanced service operates between Easter and July at Whitmore Bay, on weekends and bank holidays only.


4.    The beaches at Whitmore Bay and Llantwit Major are directly managed by the Council and though Rhoose, Southerndown and Ogmore are privately owned, there is an historical arrangement in place for the Council to provide lifeguards at all of these beaches.


5.    The RNLI provides the service to all the beaches except Rhoose following their engagement to undertake beach risk assessments, on our behalf.  The purpose was to identify and assess the risks posed by potential hazards and to evaluate the current level of lifeguard cover provided. This is to ensure we sufficiently meet our responsibilities in terms of preventative actions to avoid foreseeable loss of life and injury where a coastline is likely to be visited by the public. Following this, the RNLI specified a series of control measures which they deemed appropriate to mitigate against the identified risks.


6.    The RNLI recommended that lifeguards are deployed at Whitmore Bay, Llantwit Major, Southerndown and Ogmore but that Rhoose should be excluded from a staffed service. However, the Council has continued to provide a lifeguard service at Rhoose by directly managing agency staff and will continue to do so, for the summer of 2015.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.    The RNLI service was initially paid an annual sum of £72,500.  This has increased each year, in line with the retail price index (RPI). The beach lifeguarding expenditure for 2014/15 was £80,000. The in-house service at Rhoose equated to £5,000 and the service level agreement with the RNLI was £75,000.  


8.    To contribute to Visible Services' financial targets for 2015/16, £30,000 of potential savings has been identified from the seasonal lifeguard service. As a result, the RNLI was approached and advised that due to austerity measures, the Council  intended to renegotiate the level of service provided at Vale of Glamorgan beaches to achieve the necessary financial savings.


9.    In response the RNLI offered to subsidise the service and maintain the same level of lifeguarding and reduce Council costs by £30,000. The difference will be met by the charity but they have requested a service level agreement for 5 years.


10.    In addition to their proposal, the RNLI will continue to provide any necessary equipment, training, supervision and infrastructure at their own expense.


11.    The RNLI can provide a service for beach lifeguarding as well as provide the necessary infrastructure at no additional charge to the authority. 


12.    With regard to Rhoose beach, lifeguarding will be provided in-house for the school summer holidays this year, but a further risk review will be undertaken at the end of the season.  Recommendation 3 is included to allow this review to be progressed and concluded.


13.    The RNLI have agreed to install beach safety signage on behalf of the private land owner at Rhoose should the results of the risk findings be low and there is a recommendation that a staffed presence be withdrawn. The signage should it be installed, and depends on the outcome of the review, will warn bathers of the risks of entering the sea, include any relevant local information, and confirm that the beach does not have a staffed presence.


14.    The Councils Estates Section is currently reviewing opportunities as part of an Invest to Save Project (a re-shaping services project).  One of the opportunities being considered, is the possibility of having a single operational/management/lease agreement in respect of all lifeguard facilities.  It is recommended that authority is granted to officers to consider the options/possibilities in this regard.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

15.    As the lifeguard service has predominantly utilised agency staff, there are no resource implications.  However, the Council will still provide a supervisory presence in conjunction with the RNLI utilising its own coastal officers.


16.    The renegotiation of the contract with the RNLI could provide savings of £30k to the Council with no reduction in the service provided. This service is funded from the Waste Management and Cleansing's Revenue budget. 

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

17.    Engaging the RNLI will provide a sustainable service that will encourage further visitors to Vale beaches providing an enhanced, safer environment whilst contributing to the local economy.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

18.    Lifeguard provision is a non-statutory function but this is a service that has been historically provided at the specified locations mentioned in the report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

19.    The engagement of the RNLI may contribute to deter any potential antisocial behaviour and crime.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

20.    There are no equal opportunity implications as a result of this report.


21.    A full Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) is not required for this service change.

Corporate/Service Objectives

22.    It is a Corporate Priority to:

To work with partners to develop a sustainable community which maximises opportunities for economic growth social improvement and environmental regeneration and protection.

Improvement Objective:

To protect and enhance the Vale’s natural and built environment

Policy Framework and Budget

23.    This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

24.    None as this is a Vale wide proposal.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

25.    Economy and Environment.

Background Papers


Contact Officer

Colin Smith - Works Manager, Waste Management and Cleansing Tel No:  029 20673223

Officers Consulted

Accountant, Building and Visible Services

Operational Manager Legal Services

Operational Manager Leisure and Tourism

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing