Lifeguard cans council choice
By PETER CATON
PROFESSIONAL lifeguard Keith Miller has some stern advice for Tweed Shire Council: Pull your heads out of the sand.
Mr Miller, a lifeguard for 22 years with Wollongong City Council, says the booming population of the Tweed and housing development along the coastal strip from Kingscliff to Black Rocks south of Pottsville makes a lifeguard service a must.
Peak holiday season lifeguards, employed through a contractor, he said are not enough.
While it is up to council administrators to decide whether the lifeguards should be employed in-house or through a contractor, he warned the council could be sued over drownings if they don't act soon.
"Why does everyone come to the Tweed Coast? It's to go to the beach and swim in 22-degree water," he said.
"It won't be long before the council is going to be challenged in a court of law.
"They are opening up all these new areas along the coast and they haven't even got basic signage."
In March, two months before elected councillors were sacked, Mr Miller presented the council with a briefing paper outlining the need for and advantages of an in-house lifeguard service.
He has not heard back from the council which recently approved $150,000 worth of contracts for lifeguard services over the Christmas and Easter holiday periods.
Mr Miller, currently living at Pottsville on leave from his job as a supervisor for Wollongong City Council's lifeguard service, is seeking to meet the administrators to push the case for a permanent council-run lifeguard service.
"All the biggest lifeguard services, except for Pittwater (on Sydney's northern beaches) are all council lifeguard services, all the way from Maroochydore to the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Gosford, Manly, Shellharbour," he said.
"Wollongong ... has lifeguards on 17 beaches with 20 permanent staff costing $1.2million."
A spokesman for Australian Lifeguard Services (NSW), which has provided holiday-season lifeguard services to beaches in the Tweed for the past 18 years, said the service had proved cost-effective for the area.