A LIFEBOAT station manager said it was ‘disrespectful’ to residents as the regional RNLI elected not to send a representative to a public meeting.

Walton and Frinton RNLI were set to discuss the current situation regarding its Tamar class which is set to be withdrawn in September 2024 and replaced with a much smaller D-Class inshore lifeboat.

The station has postponed the meeting on April 21 after being informed a regional representative would not be attending.

Stewart Oxley, Walton and Frinton lifeboat station manager, expressed his confusion and disappointment at the decision.

He said: “We were expecting to get someone from the regional management team, Ross Barraclough has responded to a lot of our queries so we thought it might be him.

“We were told it wouldn’t be Ross or anyone else from the senior team, then we were told it would be Graeme Richardson, area lifesaving manager, who’s our day-to-day contact.

“Last week I was having a phone conversation with headquarters when I was informed that no-one was coming.”

Walton and Frinton volunteers were hoping to discuss alternatives such as changing the D-Class inshore lifeboat to a more suitable and larger Atlantic 85 B-Class lifeboat.

An independent campaign group has been launched in the hopes of retaining the all-weather lifeboat, and whilst Walton and Frinton RNLI appreciates its support, it does not share its views.

Stewart added he understands that the structure of Walton Pier isn’t suitable to retain the all-weather lifeboat but is still looking to discuss a better alternative.

He said: “Personally, by not sending a representative I think it’s their way of clamping down on the decision and saying there’s no point in discussing it.

“I think it’s very disrespectful to the local Walton and Frinton community who have been supporting the lifeboat station for 140 years.

“Lifeboat stations in all of our local towns rely on the community so I’m very disappointed that they won’t even engage with people.”

An RNLI spokesperson said: "We have been informed that a public meeting to discuss the future of lifesaving assets at Walton and Frinton on Friday 21 April has been cancelled by its organisers.

"This meeting was not arranged by the RNLI and the decision to cancel it has also been taken independently by the people who organised it."

Walton and Frinton RNLI will host a virtual Q and A session on its Facebook page on Wednesday, April 19, at 7.30pm. To attend visit facebook.com/WaltonRNLI.