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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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West Cumbria harbour vandals are ‘putting lives at risk’

Lives are being put at risk as yobs hurl lifebelts into the water of a harbour on a weekly basis.

Ged Doran photo
Ged Doran

The seriousness of the problem has this week been underlined after it was revealed that in the past three months lifebelts at Harrington Harbour, near Workington have been interfered with 20 times.

Harbourmaster Ged Doran has pointed out his concerns in his annual report to harbour owner Allerdale Council, saying that he is constantly reporting incidents to police.

He said: “Hardly a week goes by when I or one of the boat owners haven’t had to retrieve the belts from the harbour.

“In July I caught some youths throwing a belt into the outer harbour so the police were called.”

Councillor Barbara Cannon, chairman of Harrington Harbour and Dock Board, said that it was a long-standing issue.

“It is a huge safety problem. Lifebelts can help to save lives, but not if they’re missing from where they should be at the time when they are needed,” she said.

The incidents have prompted a warning from the coastguard, saying that people’s lives are being put at risk. Paul Campbell, watch officer at Liverpool Coastguard, said the lifebelts cannot be secured to prevent the vandalism as they need to be available for people to throw into the water in an emergency.

“You can’t attach them in any way to stop people from doing it as they need to be able to just throw in,” he said. “There isn’t anything you can do to stop it happening. If people are doing this there is always the risk that a lifebelt won’t be near when it’s needed in an emergency and this could put people’s lives in danger.”

Mr Campbell is asking for people to report incidences where the lifebelts are not in the correct place to their local authority or harbourmasters.

Mr Doran will present his report to the Harrington Harbour and Dock Board when it meets next Wednesday.

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