Late Sunday evening Conservative Newquay Councillor Mark Formosa issued a press statement accusing the Liberal Democrats and Independents of politicising the lack of lifeguard cover on Cornwall’s beaches.
Tory councillor Mark Formosa had said the Lib Dems at County Hall were now blaming the RNLI after the death of a 63 year old man and an 17 year old woman off the Cornish coast recently.
But the attack on his political opponents has back fired on Formosa today with the rest of the Tory group quickly distancing itself from the Newquay Councillor’s words.
“Notable that the Lib Dems at County Hall had initially defended the RNLI’s decision to withdraw lifeguards, but then switched last week to blaming the charity after a 17-year-old girl and a 63-year-old man died” – Mark Formosa
Formosa’s initial statement, entitled ‘Council sits on unused £1m lifeguard fund’ began “Cornwall Council was accused this week of sitting on a £1 million lifeguard fund while people lost their lives in the seas around the county’s coastline”.
Cllr Formosa’s statement continued “The only positive action the council took was to put up red flags and warning notices on beaches – and we have all seen how much good that did”
He accused the Lib Dems of preferring “to play politics and attack Conservative councillors who have been working hard behind the scenes to try to find a solution”.
The extraordinary outpouring ended by saying how it must be “deeply upsetting to the families who lost loved ones or whose loved ones were narrowly saved from the same fate”
“I am sure many of the hard-working people of Cornwall will want to take their families onto our beaches this summer as the lockdown is eased, and that they will remember the crass attitude of the Lib Dems when they cast their votes in the local elections which are now less than a year away.” he said.
The Conservative Group were forced to issue a statement this morning
“Councillor Formosa has issued a Press Release on Sunday evening on the subject of Lifeguards/Safety on beaches.
For the avoidance of doubt this release does not represent the position of the Conservative Group of Councillors and has not been approved as such”
Council Leader Julian German said today he though that Councillor Formosa’s statement was ‘outrageous’ and the council were doing everything possible to get lifeguard cover back to Cornish beaches. The council certainly weren’t ‘sitting on a £1m fund’ but that was roughly the size on the annual contract with the RNLI. Further cover to the seven beaches announced at last weekend would be announced when the RNLI were ready to provide it, he said.
In an open letter dated on 26th May the Chief Exec of the RNLI, Mark Dowie said
“Rolling out a lifeguard service – especially in a pandemic – is not as simple as putting a lifeguard on a beach. We found out about the easing of lockdown restrictions in England at the same time and in the same way as the general public. Contrast that with shops, which were given three weeks’ notice and even car showrooms have been given 7-days warning to prepare.”