SAFETY concerns have stopped lifeboat crews from being able to launch directly from Walton Pier.

Walton and Frinton Lifeboat had to find a new mooring at Titchmarsh Marina for three weeks after a structural survey raised questions over the future use of the pier.

The boats, which have continued to be on call, have this week returned to their usual pier mooring.

But crews have undertaken three weeks’ training so they can launch from the beach to get to the lifeboat.

The RNLI has refused to comment further on what the safety concerns are.

John Halls, former RNLI crew member, said: “It’s good to see them back on Walton Pier.

“The pier is more than 100 years old and we had trouble with it in the 1953 floods but I haven’t heard of anything since.

“I was surprised to hear she was on the river but she did keep working.”

Residents have questioned why the pier has remained open to members of the public but not the RNLI crews.

The RNLI said: “Walton and Frinton RNLI is on service and, together with support from the flanking stations at Clacton and Harwich, continues to operate an effective life-saving capability along this area of coast.

“The RNLI has undertaken structural surveys of the pier at Walton and Frinton for many years as part of the regular management of the lifeboat station facilities.

“The recent structural survey focussed specifically on the use of the pier access for the operation of the lifeboat service - the general safety of the pier and public access is not currently a concern and is frequently monitored by the pier owners, who have full responsibility for the structure.”

The spokesman added: “After a short period away, the all-weather lifeboat is moored at the end of the pier and the crew access the lifeboat by launching from the beach with the tractor and using the boarding boat.

“We will review the full report on the outcome of the survey once it is available and further assess the most appropriate location for the lifeboat.”