Lifeguard expenses soar

THE cost to ratepayers for lifeguards on major Tweed beaches over the Christmas holidays is about to soar by more than 70 per cent ? partly to ensure the lifesavers can take toilet and meal breaks.

And the increase comes despite the introduction of a new service with privately paid lifeguards and a new volunteer surf lifesaving club midway between the new Outrigger and Peppers resorts at the Salt development south of Kingscliff.

Despite putting a $100,000 cap on the cost of the holiday lifeguard service, Tweed Shire Council is today set to consider accepting a $113,807 tender from Surf Lifesaving Services Pty Ltd.

That is nearly $50,000 more than the cost of the $65,000 "standard service" that council officers have warned is no longer suitable because it would provide only one lifeguard on duty at any of the Tweed's patrolled beaches any one time.

Surf Life Saving Services said two lifeguards should be on duty at each site based on government guidelines and current industry standards.

The guidelines from the NSW Local Government Department warn if only one lifeguard is on duty, and if no volunteers are helping out, "the area may not be under visual surveillance during a rescue or when the lifeguard is carrying out first aid or having a refreshment/toilet break".

Closing the beach for meal breaks should also be avoided, according to the department.

Surf Life Saving Services also argued the council should also consider the safety needs of the personnel providing the service when determining the number of personnel to be on duty.

It said Surf Life Saving NSW requires a minimum of three proficient Bronze Medallion holders for voluntary patrols (weekends and public holidays) at any one time.

Under the proposals, paid surf lifesaving services would be provided over the Christmas period between Wednesday, December 22 and Tuesday, January 25 at Cudgen, Cabarita, Fingal, Duranbah, Hastings and Pottsville Beaches.

They would also be provided over Easter between Friday, March 25 and Monday, March 28 at "non-surf club beaches", ie, Duranbah, Hastings Point and Pottsville.

Beaches with surf clubs are patrolled over Easter by volunteers.

Council officers said it was too late to call fresh tenders.

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