Fareham and Gosport lifeboat service need new funds as grant is to end

FUNDING Gafirs is facing a funding cut. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (121410-7)
FUNDING Gafirs is facing a funding cut. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (121410-7)
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AN INDEPENDENT lifeboat service needs to raise more cash after a council refused to fund its parent body.

Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs) belongs to the Solent Sea Rescue Organisation (SSRO), which relies on thousands of pounds of funding from local authorities to cover the £55,000 insurance costs for its eight stations.

But at a meeting councillors at Southampton City Council voted to refuse a funding grant of £10,576 for SSRO.

Portsmouth City Council and Havant Borough Council have already stopped funding the organisation, which is separate to the RNLI.

Hampshire County Council plans to give £30,700 to SSRO.

Mike Allen, vice-chairman of Gafirs, said it relies on contributions from the SSRO, for insurance bills, and fundraises to pay its costs for the more than 100 call-outs it gets each year.

He said: ‘As a rescue service we don’t differentiate between whether someone comes from Southampton or they live somewhere else.

There’s always the dangers others will follow suit and not fund us.

‘We’re in a difficult economic climate and people are cutting funding across the board.’

Mr Allen added the money given to them will be maintained this year while the parent organisation looks for future funding.

Peter Edgar is a councillor at Gosport Borough Council – which does fund the SSRO – and is chairman of the organisation.

He said: ‘It’s death by a thousand cuts to the organisation.

‘We make sure our units give a gold-star lifesaving service.’

Gafirs covers the waters from Portsmouth Harbour to Titchfield Haven and south toward the Victorian forts in the Solent, but have been called out beyond this.

When contacted by The News, no-one was available to comment from Southampton City Council.

A report into how the council awards grants to voluntary groups said all those who had been funded before must reapply.

It said applications were considered on their merit, not past funding decisions.