THE long-running dispute over the future of New Quay lifeboat has taken another turn with the RNLI cutting ties with the group campaigning for the retention of Ceredigion’s only all-weather lifeboat.

In a joint statement issued by the RNLI and the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign (CLC) in December 2018, both parties had agreed that they would meet regularly to discuss the proposed reconfiguration of lifeboats in the New Quay area as a “platform to review concerns.”

The RNLI plans to replace New Quay's all-weather lifeboat with an Atlantic 85 inshore boat in 2020 following a coastal review - a decision strong opposed by CLC.

At the time, both parties welcomed the opportunity “to exchange views and data, and to work constructively towards ensuring the most appropriate future lifeboat configuration for the Ceredigion coast.”

However, that dialogue now seems to be over.

A spokesperson for the CLC cited “cultural differences” for the breakdown in dialogue.

“The RNLI has consistently made it clear that it is not prepared to submit its decision to public or peer group scrutiny, whereas the CLC is an open organisation, encouraging two way dialogue with local stakeholders,” said the spokesman.

“It is vital that the CLC retains the trust and confidence of the people we represent. We would lose that trust if we were to engage with the RNLI behind a veil of secrecy. The decision to strip Ceredigion of all-weather search and rescue provision in 2020 is a serious matter of public interest and should be explored in the public domain.

“We have made it clear to the RNLI that we will continue to gather relevant data and informed opinion, that we will present the evidence-based case to maintain an all-weather lifeboat in New Quay to the RNLI for their consideration, and that our completed report will be available to the public.”

A statement from the RNLI said: “Regular communication and liaison between the RNLI and CLC was intended to help each party to understand each other’s aims and objectives and provide an effective platform to review concerns.

“In the interests of transparency, the RNLI was keen to share with the group some of the detailed evidence accumulated to support the allocation of an Atlantic 85 lifeboat at New Quay. This was to include detail on the consultation that took place and the positive feedback that consultation received.

“As this is highly sensitive and confidential data, we asked that members of the group privy to this information to sign a written confidentiality agreement to provide us with some assurance this information would not be shared further.

“Some of this data is not the RNLI’s to share as it comes from other organisations, including the National Water Incident database and HM Coastguard.

“The RNLI data contained within the report is both commercial sensitive and would allow the identification of specific individuals, e.g. crew, donors, fatalities or casualties. This would be not acceptable due to GDPR (data protection) and releasing it would breach our confidentially obligations.

“It would be irresponsible for the RNLI to risk breaching its duty of confidentiality to third parties and it would be ethically wrong to enter into discussions without having measures in place to ensure confidentiality.

“We had hoped the group would understand our need to put some measures in place to ensure confidentially, whilst still being able to thoroughly discuss the decision-making process in regular meetings. It is unfortunate the liaison has broken down, but without this measure in place, it is very difficult to outline a way forward.

“We now feel it is imperative we re-direct our efforts to our people at New Quay Lifeboat Station to support them through the reconfiguration. Investing in high-level dialogue with CLC was not having the desired outcome for both parties.

Despite the breakdown of talks with the RNLI, campaigners are undeterred.

The CLC spokesperson added: “The CLC enjoys committed support from our local communities and we have been given a mandate by more than 29,000 petition signatories to seek to reverse the RNLI’s decision to remove New Quay’s all-weather lifeboat. We remain committed to this objective.

“While long overdue, we applaud the RNLI’s decision to engage with the crew and volunteers at New Quay lifeboat station, and we wish the process well. We hope that the RNLI will listen closely to many years of accrued local knowledge and seamanship.

“We have recently had productive meetings with the Welsh Fishermen’s Association and the Wales Fishing Safety Committee and we would like to thank them for their support.

“Our MP, Ben Lake, has met with ministers from the Department for Transport and the Wales Office, and has further meetings planned with them for the coming weeks. We continue to build support, with donations arriving from as far afield as the US and Japan.”

To find out more about the campaign to save Ceredigion’s only all-weather lifeboat, visit