Save our Savers: Lifeguards in Brighton say lives will be lost if cuts to service go ahead

  • Watch the report by ITV Meridian's Charlotte Wilkins.

Lifeguards in Brighton and Hove say that lives will be lost if £100,000 worth of cuts are approved at a council budget meeting next week.

A petition to stop cuts to the service in Sussex has been signed by over 2,800 people.

Last year alone, lifeguards who work on Brighton and Hove's beaches say they were involved in 79,000 preventative interventions, 92 major incidents and 11 mental health-related incidents.

They say 46 lives were saved - one every 8 days during lifeguard season - including sea rescues, CPR and critical care. 

Thousands flock to Brighton's 11 miles of beaches in the summer months.

Lifeguard managers fear the withdrawal of lifeguards will "significantly increase the danger of drowning" because vital preventative advice and early detection & reaction will be lost.

Lifeguards described Brighton and Hove's beaches as the "bedrock of the tourism industry in the city", and a reason why many visitors spend time there.

Lifeguard Marianne Clark said: "Brighton beach poses fairly unique risks and hazards, you’ve got things like the piers. The West Pier has a lot of metalwork underneath the water which is not visible, which people aren't aware of. 

"The main pier attracts people - adrenaline junkies and daredevils, the groins are a magnet for kids. It’s all close to clubs and alcohol, so there are an awful lot of dangers and just the number of people using the beach, not just in the summer."

  • Lifeguard, Marianne Clark said Brighton's beaches are one of the main reasons why tourists visit.

A council spokesperson said: "On 23 February councillors will set our budget for next year under some of the challenging financial circumstances we've faced as a city. "We've lost more than £100 million in government funding over the last 12 years and are currently facing a funding shortfall of around £14 million. 

"This means we will have to take some very difficult decisions. 

"The current proposals would see more than £30 million invested in key services. But there will be some extremely difficult decisions to make on other areas of spending. "We would emphasise that no decisions have been taken regarding funding for our lifeguards team for this summer and in future years. 

"No permanent members of staff are at risk of losing their jobs as a result of the budget proposal. "We're doing everything we can to protect vital council services. But we have a legal duty to agree a balanced budget.

"Councillors on our Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee are due to consider a report considering future lifeguard service options when they meet in March."