PEOPLE who become stranded on Cramond Island should be forced to pay towards the cost of their rescue, according to fed-up members of the local community.
Calls for fines to be slapped on people who call the coastguard are being floated following the latest rescue.
On Sunday, a lifeboat was called out to rescue five women, three men and a three-year-old boy. The stranded party were picked up uninjured and returned to Cramond’s harbour, where they were met by six fire engines, four special operations team vehicles provided by the ambulance service and one police vehicle.
John Dods, of Cramond and Barnton Community Council, described members of the public who become trapped as a drain on resources. He said: “I’ve lost count of the number of rescues, it seems to be happening more and more. It’s just too easy for these flaming idiots to get stuck and call out the lifeboats and the coastguard and that all costs money. The tide tables are extremely clear, but there’s always someone willing to ignore them.”
Mr Dods, who is also a member of the Cramond Association, added: “They should be made to pay some or all of the costs, I think it would make people more aware.”
His calls were echoed by Alan Bogue, owner of the Cramond Gallery Bistro. Mr Bogue, who has lived in the area for 30 years, has previously advocated slapping £100 fines on people who become trapped.
He said: “I think most people in Cramond would be in favour of fines being introduced, it has become an absolute joke.
The incident on Sunday had lifeboats, coastguard, ambulance, fire and police in attendance – a £100 fine wouldn’t cover the cost of all that but it might make people think twice before just heading out there.”
Some, however, fear introducing fines could backfire – by preventing some people from calling the emergency services.
Local Conservative councillor Lindsay Paterson, left, believes other options need to be considered. She said: “While I sympathise with those calling for fines, perhaps we should first look at making existing signs more prominent or maybe looking at options to limit access to the island.”
Lib Dem councillor Alastair Shields said: “If people are deliberately ignoring the tide tables simply to be daring and this does result in lifeboats being called out then we really must think of means of preventing this. Whether administering fines is the way to do this would need to be reviewed with great consideration.”
Flookburgh Bay Search and Rescue charity, which is situated at Morecambe Bay and costs £70,000 a year to run, faces similar problems. Almost entirely responding to members of the public who get in trouble on the sands, its members have recently opened a lifeboat charity shop to supplement their income.
Sunday’s incident came less than a month after 14 people were rescued in one weekend. On March 1, two people had to be rescued after becoming trapped by the tide. The very next day RNLI and the coastguard were again called out, this time to rescue a party of 12 stuck on the island.
Rescues are thought to dig deep into the coffers of organisations such as the RNLI. Exact figures are not available but each mission could cost thousands.
Mike Garfitt, a volunteer for the Queensferry RNLI, who was present at Sunday’s rescue, refused to be drawn on the cost.