As reported on page two of the Guardian newspaper on December 24, an official of the Rother District Council has blamed the drownings of last summer at Camber Sands on the limitations of “non-swimming persons of a certain culture”.
The official goes on to suggest that it is “unfair for us [the Council] to carry the burden of responding” to such risks. All of which ignores the dialogue the RNLI has been attempting with the Rother DC since 2003.
In 2013 the RNLI carried out their own risk assessment recommending that a lifeguard service be introduced at the beach – a recommendation not taken up by the District Council.
Now this local authority is trying desperately to wriggle out of any responsibility for its penny-pinching disregard of public safety – notwithstanding the large amount of money it collects from the Camber car parks.
In so doing, and using language veering on racist, Rother District Council has succeeded in insulting those who perished, causing yet more distress to their families. According to the relatives, all seven victims were able to swim, spoke good English and had been to the beach on previous occasions.
Many of us know from our own experience how dangerous the incoming tide can be at Camber – clearly dangerous enough for the RNLI to have advised the presence of a lifeguard service.
I would ask our District Council to issue an apology to the families of the drowned and make a public commitment to fund the lifeguard service.
[Editor’s note: the date for the final inquest on those who died has yet to be announced. We will, however, be reporting in detail on the coroner’s findings and his or her opinion, if one is given, of where responsibility for safety on the beach lies.]