Maritime rescue heros are reportedly upset and disillusioned by the closure of shore-based facilities - especially those who have been reposted to the new coastguard facility in Perry Barr, Birmingham. There hasn't been a single incident requiring their inshore rescue skills since the day the £20million facility opened in January 2011.
"We have the very latest self-righting vessel here," explained Tiger Clunes, lifeboat captain with 20 years' experience rescuing stricken mariners. "But the launch ramp into the canal is simply an inefficient and time-consuming way to reach the sea. Made worse by the fact that just 50 yards along is a motorway bridge tunnel we can't quite get through without dismantling the radio mast. That's a half-hour job. It hasn't been well thought out."
The helicopter has been pressed into service on only one occasion. Clunes explains, "We had a call from a lady at the lido in Cannon Hill Park. She was clearly in distress. We scrambled the chopper from Birmingham International Airport and were on the scene in about an hour, not bad going because we only take hand luggage now. But when we got there we found the cause of her distress was that the lido was shut. It's now the forecourt of the Midland Arts Centre."