Further calls for RNLI to engage to repair "damage" to community relations

The RNLI needs to engage directly with the Arbroath community to repair the damage caused by the continuing row over the charity’s decision to effectively downgrade Arbroath’s lifeboat station, local politicians have said.

Mark Dowie
Friday, 9th June 2023, 7:00am

Dave Doogan MP and Graeme Dey MSP held talks over Zoom with the charity's bosses to raise a range of issues, including the nature of the consultation, the RNLI’s “deeply dissatisfactory de facto contest" with Broughty Ferry Lifeboat Station and the manner in which their decision was revealed to the public and local RNLI personnel.

The station was told in 2014 that it would receive a new Shannon-class all-weather lifeboat when its current vessel was decommissioned. However, crews learned last month that Arbroath will instead receive an open Atlantic 85 rigid inflatable boat, with the all-weather vessel going to Broughty Ferry. The RNLI has said the decision was taken after “a collaborative, evidence-based process” involving both stations

The charity challenged claims made by Mr Doogan in the House of Commons that the consultation was little more than a “monologue” and his assessment that the Atlantic 85 was a downgrade.

Mr Doogan said: “This was a robust exchange of views where I and Graeme Dey set out clearly the damage that been done to community relations and the very real need to engage with the community.

“I stand by my reference to a ‘monologue’ rather than a consultation as there has been no opportunity prior to final announcement for local stakeholders to learn of or challenge the assumptions made by the RNLI.

"Three coastal reviews all signalled a Shannon Class for Arbroath so this bombshell announcement is completely out of the blue and it remains crystal clear that this downgrade is in fundamental opposition to the wishes of the RNLI volunteers and the community.”

Mr Dey added: “This is a downgrade for Arbroath. The Atlantic 85 is faster but that counts for nothing if the weather is too bad to put out in an open boat to effect a rescue operation. Speed is only one measure, on all others the Shannon is by far the superior craft in terms of range, endurance and towing capacity.”

Mr Dey added: “It is deeply unhelpful, on top of everything else, for any pretence that Arbroath is not being downgraded by current RNLI management plans – local representatives are not fooled and the local community are not confused, Arbroath needs an all-weather capability maintained here with a Shannon Class boat to replace the current all-weather Mersey.”

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