Lifeguard costs high

By LEONIE BRANN

COST is one of the biggest hurdles to full-time lifeguards being employed for Tweed Coast beaches, a council manager said.

Providing full-time lifeguards, like on the Gold Coast, will be one of the options considered by a new Beach Safety Committee, organised by Tweed Shire Council to map the future of beach safety on the Tweed Coast, according to council's Environment and Health Services manager, Geoff Edwards.

"But we have to remember council's budget is limited by rate pegging," Mr Edwards said.

"On the Gold Coast where they can set rates at a level to pay for all the things the community needs, they also have a bed tax (paid by tourists towards costs of operation)."

Mr Edwards was commenting on the need for enhanced life- guard and safety awareness on Tweed Coast beaches, after the drowning of 15-year-old Corey McDowell, who went missing while swimming on the south side of Norries Head, at Cabarita, on Saturday. The body of the Kingscliff High School student was found on Monday, about 3km north of where he went missing.

Far North Coast lifeguard supervisor Peter Baird who co-ordinates contractors patrolling Tweed Coast beaches for six weeks during the school holidays and over the Easter long weekend, thinks council should be doing more to improve safety on local beaches.

He believes the minimum of lifeguard services council should provide is full-time patrols over a nine month period, from September to April, during the peak tourist and swimming seasons.

Beach signage provided by the council should also be improved, he told the Daily News this week.

"They need to warn people of the dangers and hazards, otherwise people might not think there are any."

Representatives from Fingal Rovers, Cabarita, Cudgen Headland and Salt surf lifesaving clubs, a representative of Far North Coast Surf Life Saving NSW, council officers and a council administrator, will make up the Beach Safety Committee, that will help plan lifeguard services and beach safety issues for the next 10 to 15 years, Mr Edwards said.



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