BEACHGOERS can look forward to an extended lifeguard service and improved beach safety.
It comes after Port Macquarie-Hastings Council contracted lifeguard services to Surf Life Saving Services.
The subsidiary of Surf Life Saving NSW has been providing lifeguard services to 15 other councils for up to 29 years, covering 83 beaches.
There will be longer beach patrol hours, more patrols at Lake Cathie, and lifeguards will have access to an all terrain vehicle and jet skis at both Town Beach and Rainbow Beach.
Australian Lifeguard Service manager Brent Manieri said the agreement would extend the previous scope of council-provided services.
“It’s a big step forward for the town and its visitors as it will be a great service that provides greater safety,” he said.
“We are hoping the community will see a marked improvement to the service provided to them.”
He said a dedicated jet ski at Town Beach, for example, would assist with emergencies around the bar entrance and other nearby black spots such as Shelly Beach.
Mr Manieri said the benefits included the synergy between their service and the volunteer services on the beach.
Former council lifeguards have already submitted job applications under the new structure.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council director Tricia Bulic said the council had offered lifeguard services on a seasonal basis for many years, and was one of only two regional NSW councils to still provide the service.
“This new agreement will provide the community with greater value for money, improve efficiency and increase beach patrol hours, thus increasing safety for locals and visitors alike,” she said.
Lifeguards will be able to explore greater career opportunities too. A new lifeguard supervisor will be employed, and the beach and safety education program delivered to schools will be bolstered.
Lake Cathie lifeguard patrol hours will increase from six to eight hours a day over the Christmas period.
New patrols will be provided at Lake Cathie during the spring and Easter school holidays.
Mayor Peter Besseling agreed the tender decision would result in a much improved service.
Cr Besseling, who is a member of Port Macquarie Surf Lifesaving Club, declared an interest and left the council chamber when the tender was discussed.
Surf Life Saving Services will provide lifeguard services for five years.