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Lifeboats face new charges for radio use

PUBLISHED: 11:33 03 October 2008 | UPDATED: 09:10 13 July 2010

Angry lifeboat supporters say they may have to raise another £260,000 a year under plans to make them pay for using life-saving radio airwaves.

Communications regulator Ofcom is looking at introducing fees for ship and air radio users to bring them in line with other licence-holders.

ANGRY lifeboat supporters say they may have to raise another £260,000 a year under plans to make them pay for using lifesaving radio airwaves.

Communications regulator Ofcom is looking at introducing fees for ship and air radio users to bring them in line with other licence-holders.

But the RNLI says the move could be a major drain on hard-earned cash gathered in volunteers' collecting tins across the nation.

And the burden of new fees could be even more crippling for smaller independently-run stations operated on shoestring budgets around the coast.

Ofcom says a planned 50pc discount means the RNLI may only have to pay about £100,000, and that the fee is essential to ensure effective use of the commercially-valuable airwave "spectrum".

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said it was "crazy to expect a charity running an emergency service to have to pay for the use of this system." He would be contacting Ofcom over the "outrageous" suggestion and calling for a 100pc discount.

RNLI operations staff officer "Peter Bradley said that without a discount the fees would have a disastrous impact on fundraising.

"We would have to find an extra £260,000 a year. That's a lot of money when you think in terms of lifeboat days and little old ladies collecting pound coins."

Mundesley independent lifeboat treasurer Bob Francis said the station's running costs, which ran into thousands of pounds, had to be raised locally and any extra fees would eat into their budget.


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