New Broads safety group aims to provide back up to emergency services
- Credit: Archant
A former police officer now working as a district councillor in Norfolk has started a Broads safety group which he hopes will assist emergency services when needed.
Paul Rice, a North Norfolk Council member and member of the Broads Authority said the Broads River Watch (BRW) group was started to provide 'an additional resource' to Broads Beat, the coastguard and Broads Authority.
'We're not there to replace these organisations, we're simply there to help them when called on by them,' he said.
An active water safety campaigner, Mr Rice said he had concerns about safety levels on Broads waterways.
'I've always been concerned about water safety on the Broads and feel we need more resources.'
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'There are a fair number of inexperienced people using the waterways. I'm not only talking about major issues, sometimes it's just the basics. For instance I don't see enough people wearing buoyancy aids.'
Based in Horning, the group runs a Quicksilver 430 cabin boat powered by a 25hp engine.
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It was donated by Ray Stibbon, a local villager, while a vehicle was sponsored by Mr Rice's company Train Terrain and Herbert Woods boatyard.
He said they did not receive any funding from government but had applied to the Horning Boat Show for funds to purchase additional equipment, money for training and to be able to put down a deposit on an all weather boat.
The group is currently manned by four volunteers and is prepared to assist with various issues including pollution, water safety problems, debris, boating incidents or to report suspicious behaviour.
'We're here to help Broads users enjoy the Broads navigation area in safety by receiving and disseminating information to the appropriate organisations,' said Mr Rice. 'We're also a back up to those groups when they need us.'
He said the group had recently assisted in the search for a boat after it was reported one of the people on board was suffering from chest pains.
'We are looking for volunteers so if anyone is interested in joining they can get in touch via our Facebook page,' he said. 'It's important that people understand that if there are any problems they need to contact the emergency services first. On the water this is the coastguard on 999. We are just there as a back up.'