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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Fears as Askam lifebelt is stolen

FEARS have been raised the lifebelt at Askam will not be replaced after it was stolen for the second time this year.

50037167B000
CONCERNS: Sub-officer for Duddon Inshore Rescue, Keith Oliver, with all that remains of the lifebelt at the end of Askam pier MILTON HAWORTH REF: 50037167B000

The lifebelt on Askam pier was stolen in January and later replaced by Barrow Borough Council.

But at the time, Alan Barker, street care manager for the council, said the council would not be replacing it again because of funding and land ownership issues.

This week, the lifebelt was stolen again – and its stand damaged – leading to fears it would not be replaced.

Keith Oliver, sub-officer for Duddon Inshore Rescue, which is called out to deal with anyone who gets into difficulty in the estuary, said the lifebelt has been stolen or damaged “around 10 times now” and when the lifesaving device is stolen or moved, his crew are being put under extra pressure to ensure the safety of the public.

Mr Oliver said: “Without the lifebelt, it wastes valuable time.”

Mr Oliver added that every second is crucial in a rescue operation and having the lifebelt on the pier can save lives. He said: “There could be somebody close, a member of the public, who could be there to help.”

Mr Oliver is now campaigning for measures to be put in place to ensure further acts of vandalism and theft can be avoided in the future.

He wants a sign put up with the lifebelt stating what it’s for and asking any potential thieves or vandals to leave it alone.

“It is for the safety of the people,” he added.

Mr Oliver also said sources of funds will need to be found somewhere from to replace the stolen lifebelt.

Sergeant John Mcintosh, of Dalton police, said police were aware of the theft. He added: “Offences of this nature can put lives at risk and we would actively encourage people to come forward with any information about the theft.”

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