Just two Thanet beaches will have lifeguard patrols this Summer

Drastically reduced lifeguard patrols

Just two Thanet beaches out of the usual 10 will have lifeguard cover this Summer.

Lifeguards are due to start covering Viking Bay from May 30, dependent on the arrival of personal protective equipment, with Margate following on June 20.

But Ramsgate, Botany Bay, Joss Bay, Stone Bay, Westbrook, St Mildred’s, West Bay and Minnis Bay beaches will have no cover under the current arrangements.

This is despite the relaxation of lockdown rules which means people are now free to visit beaches, amongst other open areas, for as long as they want and are able to travel to do so.

Ramsgate beach Photo Brian Whitehead

The issue was highlighted by The Isle of Thanet News at the beginning of this month when the newly formed UK Lifeguard Solidarity Group warned the UK’s 240 patrolled beaches could be left unprotected unless the government included beach lifeguards in its job retention scheme.

Lifeguards who would usually be patrolling beaches across the county this summer said they would be forced to find work elsewhere because they were not eligible for furlough payments – meaning they will not be able to take up posts when lockdown restrictions eased and the public begin to flock to the coast.

Botany Bay Photo John Horton

The lack of furlough inclusion meant vital recruitment and training did not take place after operations were halted on March 23 due to the restrictions on public life

More than 600 professional lifeguards came together as the UK Lifeguard Solidarity Group to launch a campaign called Return to Shore to petition the government to tackle the problem.

This was declined with the Treasury saying any lifeguards impacted financially due to the pandemic should apply for Universal Credit.

The RNLI, which launched its beach safety campaign last week, said with changes to the lockdown restrictions, it has been looking at plans to resume a lifeguard service where possible.

But this will still only mean lifeguard patrols on around 70 of the UK’s  240 patrolled beaches by peak season.

Beaches have been chosen based on risk and popularity.

Westgate by @margatesunsets

Stuart Cattell, the Thanet and Swale representative for the UK Lifeguard Solidarity Group, said: “We will see a reduced lifeguard service this year on our beaches in Thanet which is a worrying factor, especially with how busy they’ve been in recent days and, with the water slowly warming up, it will only get worse.”

He says he hopes whatever the service may look like this year it will be comprehensive, effective and above all safe for the lifeguards to be working in.

County councillor Karen Constantine said: “We are very fortunate to live in this beautiful coastal area. For many people who live in Thanet visiting the beach is a regular event, as is sea swimming. During ‘lockdown’, I would like to see very clear messages from Thanet District Council for visitors from outside the area to ‘stay away’ from our coastal.

“However I’m very surprised that a decision to reinstate lifeguards has seen Ramsgate excluded. Ramsgate is a very busy beach and actually has, on occasions a powerful undertow. So lifeguards are as necessary here as anywhere else on Thanet. I hope TDC will recognise the need and ensure safety for everyone whether they are paddlers, swimmers or surfers.”

The lack of lifeguards may also impact on Blue Flag and Seaside Award status as safety is one of the conditions of those awards. Major non-compliance occurs when the beach does not comply with one or several criteria, with consequence for the health and safety of the beach user or to the environment. It could result in the flag being withdrawn immediately and for the rest of the season.

In Swale the council is trying to recruit lifeguards so the RNLI will provide cover for one and council paid lifeguards will patrol its other two beaches.

With beach lifeguard patrols significantly reduced the RNLI and HM Coastguard are advising the public not to use inflatables at all and for everyone, especially parents, planning a visit to a beach or the coast to follow this safety advice:

  • Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
  • Don’t allow your family to swim alone
  • Don’t use inflatables
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float

In an emergency dial 999, and ask for the Coastguard

Find more details about the UK Lifeguard Solidarity Group campaign  at www.returntoshore.org

Sign their petition at https://returntoshore.org/sign-the-petition/


  1. Its not clear from your report, exactly who made the decision to provide lifeguards on just two beaches. Could you clarify please?

  2. If things improve on the virus front the beaches will be busy as ever so life guards are essential more than two are needed as I said yesterday so are toilets and refreshments outlets. We are a seaside area not a deserted back of beyound.

  3. Why can’t Border Force officers be used on beaches, in place of lifeguards, they are usually quite effective in bringing people safely to our shores.

    Oh, silly me, they don’t help English people do they?

    • Because Border Force personnel are not trained or equipped as lifeguards.
      And if they’re on the beaches, rescuing children and their inflatables, who will be defending our borders?

      • Think you have missed the point here; who defends our borders?

        Border Force certainly don’t, they just taxi immigrants to the coast.

        • I hope Phil, unpleasant though he sounds, is never in the desperate position which so many thousands (millions?) of refugees are in , their homeland devastated by war and their families, if they survive, at high risk of death by disease or starvation.

          • It will not be too many years until we are also in that situation, we are becoming overrun with migrants. They invade our country, then commit endless crimes, wake up and look at the figures, or even the names appearing in the news.

  4. Simple, close beaches with no lifeguards, no toilets, no parking, no food, drink or anywhere to spend their money. Ann, study these points and maybe you won’t be so keen on inviting people from afar bringing us absolutely no gain but potentially leaving their rubbish and who knows what else. Let’s do more to protect our local residents. We’re a seaside community, not a charity.

    • The beaches should not be closed. Many people use their local beaches-one of the reasons is because they have no way of getting to another beach. I am one of these people- I don’t drive haven’t the stamina to walk to (for instance ) Broadstairs, and don’t want to use public transport at present. I have not left Ramsgate since March.

      Can the council please ban kite-surfers from the main beaches? Even one or two kite-surfers on a beach pose a considerable risk to other beach users, including swimmers. Jet skis are banned already.

        • Oh dear, hope you are not going to tell me you are a Sun reader, never mind everyone grows up eventually. When you do, you should be able to use grown up words.

  5. I don’t fully understand the relationship between TDC and RNLI. Do TDC contract with RNLI annually to provide a lifeguard service on our beaches in exchange for a contractual payment?

    I need to understand this to then understand who is responsible for making the decision to only have lifeguards at 2 beaches this summer. Can anyone clarify?

    • The lifeguards are provided and paid for by the council but are trained band regulated by the RNLI.
      The problem is that lifeguard qualications have to be renewed every 2 years and lifeguards also have to undergo regular training throughout the period of their qualification.
      The training for new and returning lifeguards usually takes place in April and May so that they are fully trained and ready for the summer.
      Because of the virus, this training has had to be cancelled this year which means that there are very few lifeguards available and new ones can’t begin training until it is safe for them to do so.

  6. Perhaps we need to orgasnise a voluntary lifeguard service ourselves. Obviously not as good as a professional service but better than nothing at all.

  7. I’d like to know where the lifeguards will all be going to find work elsewhere then, as without the vital training they say they would have had they will not be able to find work elsewhere. Pools are closed still anyway. These are unprecedented times for everyone so the new lifeguard solidarity group should think again at what the outcome of their actions will be on the public. Lifeguarding is an emergency service to the public near or in water and needs to continue that way. PPE is no good when they have to drag someone out the water and give lifesaving so please think again, training can still take place and those who have the skills already from the previous year can be put on a beach. Please don’t start getting difficult because you have created a union group.
    I would call on anyone who has lifesaving skills to volunteer your time on a beach, but in the case of no lifeguards Thanet Council must put up ‘Beach Closed’ signs at all the other beaches where lifeguards are usually employed, as they will need to cover themselves if anyone gets into difficulty in the sea or on the beach. I pray there will not be any incidents, but it is a risk nobody should be taking. It’s always unexpected when it happens to an individual, but this should be foreseeable by anyone with some common sense. Children though, do not think of the possible consequences of running into the water so they need watching constantly.

    TDC and foreshore staff, this is now down to you to put the warning signs up and tape the beaches off that will not be covered by lifeguards, otherwise you may be liable in a court of law if the worse happens !

    • If and when the seafront gift shops re-open, please act responsibly and don’t sell any inflatables to customers. I know that is a big part of your summer trade but you could save lives this season by not doing it. Wind and current can take an inflatable away very quickly. Parents/carers, it is your job also to be responsible with your children. Even with lifeguards on Margate beach there was a child the fatality in the water in July 2018 so it is imperative you are on your guard 100% of the time, not distracted by others chatting. That is my plea to you!

    • In 2018 there were 73 drownings near beaches in the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland. (See the National Water Safety Forum’s website.)

      Every one was a tragedy.But compared to deaths on UK roads, this total is very small. All road users accept that there is an element of risk, and so do most beach and sea users.

  8. I really hope that the beaches are not closed. We are a seaside community. Many of of choose to live here because of the sea and the beach. We manage most of the year without lifeguards and most beaches don’t have a lifeguard presence at any time. No beaches have ever been closed because there is no lifeguard there.
    Plenty of prominent signage spelling out the hazards would be good.
    We still have a coastguard and our RNLI.

    p.s I think the xenophobic comments on here are nauseating.

  9. Well said Kent resident. Just wait and see what happens if someone drowns and TDC, that’s us the residents will be taken to the cleaners. Absolute madness. Come on TDC grow some balls, you’ve nothing to lose, considering currently there’s no financial gain just a potential financial loss. Any good business wouldn’t dream of opening somewhere that gives nothing but potential damage to that business. Problem is, we don’t have a council that thinks and acts like a business. Never have, never will!

    • Someone else on here pointed out that most of our beaches, most of the time, don’t have any sort of lifeguard cover. They have been closed … but only because of sewage spillage from North Foreland.
      In the absence of lifeguards from beaches that normally have them, very obvious signs warning of the risks should be displayed. Maybe provide a telephone with a direct link to the RNLI (lots of supermarket do that to the local taxi firm).
      And I echo what someone else said: local businesses stop selling inflatables for the duration.

  10. The RNLI lifeguards provide a wonderful service. However, if they are not on the beaches, then people have to accept responsibility for their own actions and that should be put on any signage – of course warning of the dangers, undercurrents, drifting in dinghies, tide times etc. But I do not believe that beaches without lifeguards should be closed as that will affect all us locals as well. I was born here in 1956 and spent all my time at the beach during the holidays and there were no lifeguards in those days and no-one I knew died – our parents were vigilant and not looking at their mobile phones as we were in the water!!!

  11. Once again Ramsgate is the poor relation and ignored by Thanet council. The complete disregard for Ramsgate shown by Thanet council is disgusting and immoral.

    People in Ramsgate pay their taxes so why is Ramsgate always ignored and abandoned when when the council does spend money ?

    Perhaps it’s time that everyone in Ramsgate stops paying their council tax because we don’t get back what we put in, all we do is pay for the rest of Thanet to get upgraded why Ramsgate is left to rot.

    • The problem is not TDC refusing to cough up for Ransgate: the problem is that there are very few life guards, and those that are available are being utilized at the busiest beaches.

  12. Until 30 or so years ago, there were no lifeguards on any beaches in the Thanet. Some beaches had a beach inspector who would advise the public when something was unsafe but other than that it was down to individuals to make decisions that keep themselves and their families safe.
    People must use common sense and most importantly, keep their children safe!

    • Common sense seems to be increasingly short supply these days. And worse, when people fail to apply common sense and a disaster consequently happens, they seek to blame someone else.

    • You are so right, I can also remember the time before lifeguards.

      I can never understand why people (adults) have to swim to a point where they are out of their depth, any minor problem, and they are in trouble, because they can’t stand up.

      • If people always stayed in their depth they would be very close to the water’s edge. This would be much less enjoyable, and would on some summer days make for rather a crowded sea. So most adult swimmers swim out, though often not far out.

        • Although sometimes staying within their depth, so making the beach a much safer place, and therefore not having to rely upon others to be rescued.

          • This is very odd- the 9.22 posting doesn’t sound like the sort of thing I would write, especially the last part, after “place”.

        • Why do you pick up on my comments, you obviously have time on your hands, with nothing constructive to do.

          Your replies are getting quite pathetic, who would intentionally go out of their depth, to have fun, putting themselves in danger.

          If a person wishes to go into deep water (chest height), this is nowhere near the water edge.

          Get yourself an education.

  13. In a world where we’re all meant to be sensible is it really impossible not to just warn people of thrisks and have them act accordingly, there’s no real need to enter the water on a day at the beach and its generally very safe without lifeguards.
    In an earlier post its stated that 73 people died in our coastal waters , if you were to take out those acting recklessly what would that number be?
    When did we suddenly enter a world where everything was meant to have zero risk attached and any mishap be someone elses fault?
    The awful case a couple of years ago on margate beach , the little girls death was (in my opinion) the sole fault of those who were meant to be looking after her that day, a simple case of those responsible choosing not to be so.

    • The court case resulted in no criminal conviction, treated as an accident. That was with trained RNLI lifeguards on the beach who didn’t see anything because they were distracted by something else happening. A busy day on the beach witch was crowded. Daytripper from London bringing all their own food and drink so no money spent in the town at all. All the waste left on the sands as they leave to get back on the coach. Very sad but was preventable if parents/carers keep watch on the children, not on the food they have brought.
      Today, Botany Bay was packed solid with no social distancing going on, no room to do that. Cars parked all over the place causing jams in Botany road and surrounding roads. Parking on the corners so you have to take a risk pulling out. No TDC parking wardens as all on paid holiday/furlough. It’s just a joke out there. They do just what they like and fingers up to any authorities. The Council could make a lot of money out there with fines but no they don’t need they money. Only area that isn’t doing anything!

  14. The National Water Safety Forum has published statistics for 2018. 585 people drowned in the UK as a whole (not just sea drownings), and 92 of those deaths were alcohol- or drugs-related.

    • Marva Rees, why do you keep following me on here, you are pathetic.

      Who even mentioned anything about jet skiers, you just try to create, and cause an argument.

      Get yourself an eduuucatio.

  15. For heaven’s sake! People who post comments do so knowing that there may be responses from others. And how on earth does one respond to a comment by anything other than making a comment after it?

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