We are lucky to have some excellent local beaches and be close to an historic river. During the summer months if the sun is shining we can expect our beaches to be busy. Beautiful and exciting as our coastal waters are, the reality is, they can also be dangerous.
Across the UK there are around 400 accidental deaths each year in and around water, around half of them linked to alcohol. And between 40 and 50 children drown each year in the UK. I want more even people to visit our beaches – earlier this year I helped launch Beach Access North East working to make it easier for disabled people to use our beaches. But I also want people to use our coast safely.
There’s no shortage of online advice - from Clive the Coastguard, the Maritime and Coastguards Agency’s Sea Smart Campaign and the RNLI’s Respect the Water Campaign to name but three sources.
Later this week I’ll be visiting Swim Safe on Longsands and when Parliament returns I’m due to meet the Royal Life Saving Society to learn more about some of the risks. I will also be looking carefully at post-Brexit plans to make sure strong environmental protections remain to keep our beaches clean.
Let me also say thank you to those who are there when incidents happen, the RNLI with local Tynemouth and Cullercoats crews and the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade who do a fantastic job.