By CRAIG McTEAR
GEORGE Wittleton can't see the point of spending $40,000 on a proposed lifeguard tower at Diggers Beach.
The 80-year-old surf veteran and former permanent lifesaver says it's a waste of money, considering the beach is only patrolled for 12 weeks each year.
The $200,000 for five proposed towers at Diggers, Sawtell, Park Beach, Red Rock and another yet-to-be-determined location could be better spent on having patrols for longer periods, he said.
"That's more sensible than putting towers up. You could buy three jetskis which are important items of rescue gear," Mr Wittleton said.
"I don't see that towers are going to add to the safety very much more.
"It's a lot of money to spend, and then there's the worry of vandalism."
Mr Wittleton, who has been surfing at Diggers for 36 years, said the biggest beef locals had was the 'lack of consultation' on the proposed tower.
"Most boardriders oppose it, but most won't come out and say it," he said.
"Before we got lifeguards here, the boardriders were performing rescues here all the time and they're still doing it.
"But this beach has been a safe beach. Only one life has been lost here to my knowledge."
Coffs Harbour's Tom Courtney said that instead of spending money on a tower at Diggers, more toilet facilities should be provided in the carpark.
"Towers are a great thing, but only if they're manned seven-days-a-week. I know that's impossible," Mr Courtney said.
Sawtell Association of Surfers/Boardriders Club president, Aaron Bryant-Smith, says the towers will be 'eyesores'.
"Our beaches in the Coffs Harbour area are small compact beaches that can be easily patrolled from the sand if done properly," Mr Bryant-Smith said.
"Sawtell Surf Club tower was ripped down years ago because of its lack of use. It was also a neglected eyesore.
"The surf club at Sawtell has a viewing deck on the second storey of their clubhouse. This deck provides the clubbies with their high porch to overlook things happening on the beach.
"Why don't the surf clubs use the $200,000 to put membership drives together attracting more members, therefore providing more eyes on the beach, or more training for current members and new members, or even a new jet ski for each club."