A LIFEBOAT manager has called on charity bosses to give Walton and Frinton RNLI a bigger boat.

Last October it was announced that Walton and Frinton RNLI’s Tamar Class all-weather lifeboat would be withdrawn in September 2024 and replaced with a small D-Class inshore lifeboat.

Stewart Oxley, Walton and Frinton lifeboat station manager, raised several concerns over the changes.

He said: “The regional RNLI said their data shows the change will make very little difference but I strongly disagree.

“Our argument is with the amount of marinas and leisure sailing here it can be very dangerous.

“If someone breaks down we can’t get out to them in the small D-class dinghy. We can’t tow with it and it has limited first aid capabilities.”

Mr Oxley has also taken umbrage with the way the news was given to the station, not providing the crew adequate time to provide suitable alternatives.

The station was informed of the change by Mark Dowie, chief executive of the RNLI, during his visit to Walton without being offered a consultation.

Mr Oxley added: “We understand that there isn’t a viable place to house the lifeboat in Walton if we don’t use the pier but we’ve offered alternatives now.

“Our solution is rather than downgrade to a dinghy, we believe an Atlantic 85 B-class lifeboat is more suitable to our needs.

“We’re organising a public meeting at the Columbine Centre in Walton but the higher-ups at the RNLI have told us they won’t be sending anyone from the senior management team.

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“It doesn’t feel like they’re particularly engaging with us.”

Mr Oxley has also spoken about the impact the changes will have on his crew.

The Walton RNLI crew is currently made up of 17 members, 12 of whom will be let go in line with the D-class lifeboat’s age requirements.

Ross Barraclough, RNLI Head of Region North and East said: "The Walton and Frinton crew and local lifeboat management team have been involved in open discussions about the future of the lifesaving assets at Walton and Frinton lifeboat station for some time.

"The RNLI has also engaged with the local council to explore viable options for a site to house a Shannon class all-weather lifeboat or B class lifeboat at Walton and Frinton but there is nowhere appropriate in the area that would make financial sense for the charity and make best use of our supporters’ donations.

"Our charity can still deliver the same high-level lifesaving service with a D class lifeboat. The D class is designed to operate close to shore in shallow waters and is also an ideal lifeboat to tackle challenging rescues along this part of the Tendring coastline. It’s an incredible boat and has saved over a thousand lives across the RNLI.

"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.

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

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