RNLI team in access worry after rescue

There are fears a food festival on the Promenade could compromise sea safety.
There are fears a food festival on the Promenade could compromise sea safety.
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The dramatic rescue of a girl from the sea has prompted Blackpool’s RNLI crew to raise fears that a large food festival on the Promenade could compromise sea safety.

Around 11am yesterday, a girl was pulled from the water near to Blackpool RNLI station after walking down the steps to the sea.

A family member immediately pulled the girl, believed to be around 10, to safety, with an ambulance called as a precaution.

But fencing in place for the Switch-On Food and Drink Festival as part of this weekend’s Illuminations extravaganza made accessibility difficult for emergency teams.

Paul Parton, a Blackpool RNLI lifeboat official, said the route to the station was tight, making it hard to get to the beach quickly and raised concerns about the impact thousands of visitors could have on safety operations as they 
arrive this weekend.

He added: “There is a food festival going on around Central Pier area, and in order to make it secure, the organisers have fenced it off, but have not thought about access to the lifeboat station.

“After discussions with 
organisers we managed to get access, but the general public is using this area too. It is quite tight. Any vehicle will have to be very, very careful.

“It would have been really, really nice to be consulted before this.

“The access is going to be limited until Monday when the festival finishes – we’ll have to just live with it.”

Mr Parton said lifeboat crew members were aware of the situation, but added if there was a major incident all the emergency services meet at the RNLI station – with entry currently compromised.

‘Every event we hold is thoroughly assessed’

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member tourism and leisure at Blackpool Council said: “The Switch-On Food and Drink festival is currently being set up on the Promenade ahead of the weekend’s events.
“During the planning stages of any event we consult with the emergency services on a variety of issues. Sometimes, these plans have to change once the infrastructure is actually installed. The RNLI has highlighted to us that they were unhappy with the access routes through this event. Therefore, another meeting will be held on Thursday morning to ensure that all emergency services are happy with the arrangements that are in place for the weekend. 
“We would never allow an event to go ahead if there wasn’t appropriate access in case of an emergency, and every event we hold is thoroughly risk assessed.”