A LIFEBOAT boss has called for lifeguards to be stationed at trouble spots following the deaths of teenagers in the sea off Clacton.

David Wells, lifeboat operations manager at Clacton RNLI, said that “nothing has changed” despite raising concerns with Tendring Council following the death of Clacton teenager Ben Quartermaine in the sea to the east of Clacton Pier last year.

Mr Wells has now spoken out publicly following the deaths of brother and sister Haider and Malika Shamas, 18 and 14, after they got into difficulty in the sea near West Greensward on August 8.

RNLI lifeguards patrol 240 beaches across the country, but in Tendring the district council employs a team of 30 beach patrol officers.

They operate across the district’s coastline throughout the summer months, including at West Beach and Martello Bay.

But Mr Wells has called for lifeguards to be stationed on the east side of the pier and for lifeguards to be anchored in their rescue dinghies near the end of the breakwaters at low water to advise bathers to keep clear of the dangers.

Mr Wells has worked on Clacton’s former pleasure boats since he was a schoolboy, including the Viking Saga and Nemo II.

“I’m well aware of the winds and tides and dangers of the Clacton beaches,” he said.

“As the tide passes the breakwaters and pier piles, it scours out the sand around them causing deep holes which are not visible from the shore.

“The most dangerous time on the beaches is when there is no wind and the tide is out - the sea is calm and it looks safe.

“But the tide at Clacton doesn’t flow in and out, it flows sideways.

“When the tide turns you don’t feel it - every time your feet leave the bottom, the tide moves you along. You won’t notice it.

“This keeps on happening until next time you try to put your feet down the bottom isn’t there.

“If you can’t swim you start to panic and you fight for your life, but no one knows – you’re just another head in the water splashing about having fun.

“Your friend with you may try to help, but if he or she cannot swim either they too can be in trouble.

“It is very important to have lifeguards anchored in their rescue dinghies near the end of the breakwaters at low water to advise bathers to keep clear of the dangers and to protect life.

“The new beaches on the east side of the pier also need to have a lifeguard out there at low tide, there are many holes and obstacles under the pier which will catch people out.

“I’m a good swimmer, I’ve had charter fishing boats and worked on the offshore wind farms, but I have the highest respect for the sea and we must all never take it for granted.”

Mr Wells said the lifeboat charity has previously said it is willing to patrol beaches in Clacton, but that plans with the council have fallen through in the past due to “politics”.

Alex Porter, Tendring Council’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said the authority worked closely with the RNLI and other safety organisations.

“We have always had, and will continue to have, an open dialogue with the RNLI about lifeguarding options,” he said.

“Our Beach Patrol supervision runs in a very similar way to the RNLI lifeguarded beaches elsewhere in the country, with specific sections of beach monitored.

“We are happy to discuss with the RNLI any proposals they may have, but following the initial review of the most recent tragic incident along our coastline there is no evidence to suggest that an RNLI lifeguarded beach would have had an impact on the outcome.

“We are also aware of discussion on social media about signage along the seafront, and I would reiterate that a full, independent audit of signage was carried out last year at our request – with our seafronts meeting national guidelines.”

The council added that an RNLI lifeguarded beach would not incorporate either of Mr Wells’ suggestions.

Mr Wells said he disputed the beach patrol work in similar way to the RNLI lifeguards.

He added: “There is no way that the beach patrol can see, from their highchair on the sea wall, bathers in trouble around the dangerous Place Breakwater at low tide - they are almost a quarter a mile away.

“I’m very happy to talk to them to help put the situation right. We did talk to them a year ago when Ben passed away, but nothing has changed and lives are still at risk.”