Agenda Item No


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Cabinet Meeting: 28 July, 2014


Report of the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks and Culture and Sports Development


Royal National Lifeboat Institution - 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 beach lifeguarding for 2013/14 (retrospectively) and for 2014/15.


1.         That Cabinet agree to an exemption to 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 for 2013/14 and 2014/15.

2.         That Cabinet agree to maintain a separate service at Rhoose beach managed by Visible Services for the summer period of 2014.

3.         That a further report be provided to Cabinet detailing proposals for beach lifeguarding for 2015/16 and beyond, prior to the budget setting process for this period.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1 and 2

To allow the direct appointment of the RNLI for beach lifeguarding services for 2013/2014 (retrospectively) and 2014/15, and to advise Cabinet of the existing arrangements in relation to Rhoose.

3.     To advise of future arrangements in light of future budget demands.


2.         Beach lifeguarding is managed by Visible Services.  Historically the service was provided using seasonal or agency staff and managed by the Cleansing Works Manager.  However, for the 2012 / 2013 season the RNLI were engaged to provide the service on a trial basis to establish whether the service could potentially be enhanced. 

3.         The cost of the trial for the 2012 / 2013 period was £72,499 + vat, this compares to £84k when the service was delivered 'in house' during 2011 / 2012.

4.         Prior to commencing the service, the RNLI were commissioned to undertake beach risk assessments on behalf of the Authority.  The purpose of the beach assessments was to identify and assess the risks posed, by potential hazards and to evaluate the current level of lifeguarding the authority provided.  The intention was to ensure that the Council was meeting its 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 the review the RNLI specified a series of control measures which they deemed appropriate to mitigate against the identified risks and this excluded any staffed presence at Rhoose. It should be noted that during the trial period Rhoose beach was covered by agency staff engaged by Visible Services at an additional cost of circa £5k.  

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         On an annual basis, seasonal lifeguards are deployed to Whitmore Bay, Rhoose, Llantwit Major, Southerndown and Ogmore.  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.

6.         The beaches at Whitmore Bay and Llantwit Major are directly managed by the Authority and Rhoose, Southerndown and Ogmore are privately owned.  Historically the authority has always provided lifeguard patrols at these beaches.

7.         The RNLI recommended that lifeguards be deployed at Whitmore Bay, Llantwit Major, Southerndown and Ogmore only but Rhoose should be excluded from any staffed service.

8.         This recommendation was made as a result of a comprehensive risk report for Rhoose beach and, as it had not sustained any rescues or major incidents in 6-years and with an exceptionally low number of bathers, the RNLI suggested utilising the resources elsewhere.

9.         The overall proposal at the remaining Vale beaches based on the outcome of their beach risk assessments equate to an annual service charge of £75,428 per annum (2014). As advised, this is less than the previous cost of providing the service directly.  Additionally, the RNLI proposed to provide any necessary equipment, training, supervision and infrastructure at their expense through their registered charity status.

10.      By utilising the RNLI service, Waste Management and Cleansing will have a redundant inshore rescue boat and it is suggested that this be used by the RNLI or if not required a lifeguard club providing supporting patrols but the asset is to remain with the authority.  The boat could also be used to undertake sea patrols to assist in the management of jet ski craft in the areas around Barry Island and Porthkerry where a bye-law is in operation.

11.      For 2014, it is recommended that an additional service at Rhoose is maintained though as the RNLI are not prepared to provide this service due to the results of the risk assessments, separate service will be provided in-house at a cost of approximately £5,000.  This will be funded from the Visible Services coastal revenue budget.  Due to the low risk at this beach, it is proposed to provide the service for 2014 and then undertake a further assessment of all beach lifeguarding and present a further report to cabinet detailing areas for possible financial savings.

12.      The RNLI are the only professional institution available, which provide an appropriate high level of lifeguarding services.  They are a registered charity that part subsidises infrastructure as part of the service provided and they have demonstrated during 2012 and 2013 that they can enhance the service at Vale beaches.  A table showing the RNLI's activity at our 4 higher risk beaches over the trial period is attached at Appendix 'A'.

13.      Tragically there was a very serious incident at Whitmore Bay in 2013 when a young girl lost her life whilst swimming in the sea.  Although the RNLI were providing a lifeguarding service at the time, no blame was apportioned to the lifeguarding staff for this most terrible accident.

14.      In addition to the benefits of an enhanced, subsidised service, the RNLI will also provide new beach signage, a beach safety programme, community education; headquarter support, new beach location buildings and event cover.

15.      As the RNLI is the only, alternative sole provider and that the Authority will receive additional infrastructure at no further expense, it is proposed that the RNLI be engaged for 2 years (2013 retrospectively and during 2014) and exemption to standing orders be approved to permit this.  

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

16.      As the lifeguard service has been predominantly supplied by agency staff, there are no staffing implications.  However, Waste Management will still provide a supervisory presence in conjunction with the RNLI utilising its own coastal officers.

17.      The cost of utilising the RNLI to provide Lifeguard cover for this year is £75,428. In addition to this a service provided at Rhoose would cost approximately £5k per annum. In comparison the total service cost when provided in house in 2011 / 2012 was £84k. Total expenditure on lifeguarding is expected to be approximately £80,428.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

18.      Engaging the RNLI will provide a more 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)

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

Crime and Disorder Implications

20.      The engagement of the RNLI and their professional presence may contribute to deterring any potential antisocial behaviour and crime.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

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

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

23.      Outcome: Current and future generations of Vale residents and visitors enjoy the built and natural environments of the Vale of Glamorgan and actively protect and maintain them.

Policy Framework and Budget

24.      This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

25.      Ward members have not been consulted on this report as it represents a Vale wide service.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

26.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers



Contact Officer

Colin Smith - Works Manager, Waste Management and Cleansing

Tel: 02920 673 223


Officers Consulted

Accountant - Visible Services

Committee Reports

Operational Manager - Leisure and Tourism



Responsible Officer:

Mile Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing