Saturday, 4 October 2008

That sinking feeling

The lifeboats have long been one of Britain's favourite charities and that may be just as well because now the government's communications regulator wants to place an even greater burden on the thousands of volunteers who work and collect money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Ofcom is preparing to charge lifeboats for using the radios that are essential to their heroic life-saving activities. It could cost them at least £100,000 a year.

Other people such as taxi firms and broadcasters have to pay for using the airwaves, says Ofcom, so it is only fair that lifeboats should be charged for this 'valuable resource'. And they would get a discount.

That's a queer idea of fairness. How many cab firms are charities? How many lives does your local radio station save? Are radio licences a more valuable resource than our incomparable lifeboat service?

Next they'll be expecting the brave lifeboatmen to introduce a scale of fees for their rescues so they can afford to use their radios. Otherwise they could always go back to using semaphore.