A call for lifeguards to be brought in to protect visitors to Scotland’s ‘busiest’ coastline has been made by it’s council leader.
East Lothian has seen tourist numbers swell since the pandemic, with an estimated three million people heading to its 40-mile stretch of coast each year.
Now the council’s leader says more needs to be done to protect people in its busy beaches – but said additional support could not be funded by the cash-strapped local authority.
Councillor Norman Hampshire said: “There is no way this council has any resource to fund a lifeguard service but that certainly is something I think should be provided.”
Councillor Hampshire raised concerns about the number of people now using the beaches and coastline with no “knowledge of the sea”.
He told a meeting the the council’s Labour administration cabinet this week: “We have 40 odd mile of coastline here in East Lothian and most of it is accessible by the public.
“When they get to that coastline they now, in big numbers, enter the water whether they are swimming or using some kind of craft which they can buy cheaply at a supermarket and have no training or any knowledge of the sea.”
He called for lifeguards to be brought in to protect visitors saying: “The coastguard and RNLI do a fantastic job but the coastline itself needs more protection and that is something where we can hopefully find a source of funding to allow us to develop a lifeguard service within our busy beaches in East Lothian.”
The call came as cabinet approved a new water safety policy drawn up by officers.
The policy which looks at ways to prevent and educate people over dangers was drawn up by a council group working with partners including Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue, Coast Guard, RNLI, Water Safety Scotland, Scottish Water and ROSPA.
Eamon John, the council’s countryside service manager, said talks had been held about increasing services but to date the council had been “mitigating through signage”.
He added: “Any further full blown direction of travel in respect of lifeguards on our sites would come at a cost.”
Cabinet approved the new safety policy.