Final patrols flag dissent over signs

By PETER CATON

PROFESSIONAL lifeguard services provided at seven popular Tweed beaches over the holidays have ceased.

The paid lifeguards won't be back until the four-day Easter break, leaving only one Tweed beach, Salt, patrolled by professional lifeguards and another three patrolled on weekends by volunteer surf lifesavers.

But the end of the contracted period for the paid lifeguards brought calls for Tweed Shire Council to extend the patrol service to at least seven months of the year.

Far North Coast supervisor for Australian Lifeguard Services Peter Baird said his company, the commercial arm of the Australian Surf Life Saving Association, was continuing to lobby the council to extend the service.

In addition he warned the council should at least erect signs advising where the nearest flagged and patrolled beaches are.

"The Gold Coast has a 12month service and just because the border is there, doesn't mean people won't come for a swim," he said.

Mr Baird said the only beach on the Tweed now patrolled seven days a week was Salt, where the Peppers and Outrigger Resorts have contracted his company to provide the service.

Weekend and public holiday patrols would be provided by surf life saving clubs at Fingal, Cudgen (Kingscliff) and Cabarita Beach.

The paid lifeguards had patrolled Duranbah, Fingal, Kingscliff, Casuarina and Cabarita beaches until yesterday.

Mr Baird also hit out again at the council's refusal to erect surf warning signs following revelations this week that Byron Shire not only has the signs but is renewing them.

Mr Baird said Byron had saved $50,000 annually in insurance by its decision in the year 2000 to erect the signs. Clarence Valley Council he said had saved $45,000.

"It just seems funny Tweed legal advice is different to every other council in New South Wales," he said.

"They keep saying their risk assessor says signs could increase their liability."



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