Vandals put people’s lives at risk after fire

Yobs who burned a lifebelt at a north Northumberland harbour have been blasted for ‘pointless vandalism’ and ‘putting lives at risk’.

Idiots set fire to the important piece of safety equipment on the end of Amble’s south pier – where there have been drownings in the past.

The incident follows a spate of nighttime damage to equipment in the vicinity.

Warkworth harbour master Simon Baxter said: “The person who removed and destroyed the lifebelt may never need it, while some unfortunate person who does need it in an emergency, could well lose their life if it is not available.

“This sort of damage is annoying, it costs money and it is vandalism for the sake of it. It is just pointless.

“A lifebelt is an important life-saving device and these people are inadvertently putting people’s lives at risk.”

Mr Baxter discovered the burnt remains of the lifebelt – also known as a perry buoy – and its rope earlier this month by the base of the south lighthouse during one of his regular checks of safety equipment within the harbour.

The lifebelt has since been replaced, but Mr Baxter is keen to stress just how dangerous such damage could be.

He said: “There have been drownings in the past from the same area of the pier and the lifebelt served as one of the safeguards, should a mishap occur in the future.

“If it is not there, we have to run 100 metres to the other one and the time this would take could be the difference between life and death.”

Vandals have also been warned that they could receive a hefty punishment if they are caught.

Under the Criminal Damage Act of 1971, anyone found tampering with such equipment may receive up to six months in prison and/or a fine of £400.

Sadly though, this isn’t the first incident of destruction at the south pier and comes on the back of damage to railings and decking.

Action is to be taken, including working closely with police.

Chairman of Warkworth Harbour Commissioners, Maurice Burnett, said: “The pier is used at night by anglers and a minority of them disregard the guidelines and safety measures in place on the piers.

“They leave behind a trail of bait litter, cause damage to harbour property and fail to haul in their lines for boats entering or leaving the harbour.

“The Commissioners will be reviewing the matter while working closely with Northumbria Police to reduce this unacceptable behaviour.”