The Coffs Coast Advocate

Beach patrols 365 days a year?

TAKING a dip will still be chilly this winter but it should be a whole lot safer if Coffs Harbour City Council releases funding for lifeguards to patrol Park Beach 365 days a year.

The city’s chief lifeguard wants to make the famous stretch of sand the only beach between the Gold Coast and Newcastle to be patrolled year-round.

Greg Hackfath said if his budgetary request is successful – the decision is expected to be made tomorrow – patrols would start Saturday.

“I am seeking funding for five lifeguards to cover Park Beach seven days a week for the five months through until the end of September,” he said.

“I know that money is short and there are a lot of demands on council but I do believe this would be a great investment in our visitors and locals.”

The chair of the Coffs Coast Tourism Association George Cecato is right behind the proposal.

“From a tourism point of view, I believe having at least one beach in Coffs Harbour patrolled all through the year is a must,” he said.

“We have had foreign tourists drowned in recent years so anything we can do to enhance their safety can only enhance our standing as a destination for international visitors.

“Having professional lifeguards on duty through winter is also something we could also use very effectively in our marketing campaigns. I fully support the concept.”

Mr Hackfath said volunteer beach patrols ended on Anzac Day and council’s surf patrols at Park Beach and Sawtell will end this Friday.

“That means until the start of the new surf season in October, none of our beaches will be patrolled and if we have an unseasonably mild winter, that is potentially very dangerous,” Mr Hackfath said.

“While most locals know how to read beach conditions and to surf near boardriders in case they get into trouble, with foreign tourists and visitors from the inland, it is another ball game. We repeatedly press home the ‘No Flags, No Swim’ message but far too many visitors don’t heed it.

“Just last year we had a Korean tourist drown at Red Rock but less than two weeks later, another foreign visitor had to be rescued from another unpatrolled stretch of beach at Emerald Beach. You only have to look at what happens at North Wall to understand that we need year-round vigilance.”

Mr Hackfath said council’s corporate development team spent yesterday assessing the proposal.

Dog law change

TOURISM could be given a bigger lift on the Coffs Coast after new State laws were announced yesterday to allow man’s best friend to accompany owners for a latte at outdoor cafe areas in NSW.

Under the changes, cafe and restaurant owners will be able to use their discretion as to whether they allow dogs in their open-air eating areas.

If dogs are allowed, the pooch must be on a leash and sit on the ground and must not be provided with food.

Currently, under a law that is mostly ignored, cafe owners can potentially face fines or risk being named and shamed by the food authority if they allow dogs on their premises.

The issue gained attention last year when a council in Sydney’s north received complaints from a few residents regarding dogs in local cafes.

Local Government Minister Barbara Perry says the legislation reflects NSW’s changing lifestyles.

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