A LIFEBOAT boss has assured volunteer crews that replacing Walton and Frinton’s all-weather lifeboat with a smaller boat will help to provide better coverage along the coast.

A campaign group was launched last month in a bid to save Walton and Frinton RNLI’s Tamar class lifeboat, which is set to be replaced by a D-Class inshore lifeboat.

The shake-up of the services in the region comes following a review prompted by issues with using Walton Pier as a base.

Ross Barraclough, head of region for the North and East, defended the decision to replace the all-weather boat.

He said: “The D-Class is a more agile asset and ultimately, it’s best for the conditions around Walton and Frinton.

“When we make those changes, the resilience and life-saving capability of that stretch of coast will be improved.

“I have met with the crew and Walton and Frinton and they are a brilliant - their commitment over the years and dedication to the RNLI is simply fantastic and I cannot thank them enough.

“The reason that we are making the change is driven by the infrastructure issues with Walton Pier, which facilitated the need for a life-saving effect review.

“That review takes into account a number of factors, including flank stations, and looking at the profile of rescues we have carried out.

“Ultimately, the modelling shows that having a D-Class and an all-weather boat at Clacton, improves the life-saving effect for the whole stretch of coast.

“We’re going to give the crew a new D-Class and improve training – they’ll be better placed to respond to casualties in and around Walton and Frinton.”

He added that the RNLI has engaged with the crew, the coastguard and the Environment Agency and that the decision to replace the all-weather boat has already been approved by the RNLI’s trustees.

Stewart Oxley, the station’s lifeboat operations manager, previously said his team had put forward alternative plans, but they have been rejected.

“Any hope that the RNLI management would reassess their decision to downgrade the station's lifeboat has ended,” he said.

It is expected the all-weather lifeboat will leave Walton in September next year.