Police and ambulance officers at the scene of the drownings at Lennox Head on Wednesday.
Police and ambulance officers at the scene of the drownings at Lennox Head on Wednesday.

Beach safety report ?urgent

By Bree Price

The deaths of two elderly people at a Lennox Head beach has increased the urgency for completion of a safety review of Ballina Shire beaches, mayor Phillip Silver said yesterday.

Peter Kirkwood, 72, of Cleveland, outside Brisbane, and his 80year-old sister, Catharina Ilgen, a Dutch tourist, drowned in front of the SLSC clubhouse on Wednesday. The beach was not patrolled at the time.

The council has already commissioned Surf Life Saving NSW to report on life-saving facilities in the shire, including whether lifeguards are needed all year round on certain beaches in the shire.

It was commissioned after Goonellabah teenager Matthew Hicks drowned at Shelly Beach in September last year.

Cr Silver said the report would recommend how much funding was needed and how that money should be allocated.

However, Cr Margaret Howes said the most popular beaches in the shire should be patrolled all day, every day.

"We need lifesavers from sunrise to sunset every day of the week, regardless of what time of year it is," she said.

Surf Life Saving NSW general manager Andrew May said he expected the report, which would assess the popularity and physical safety of the beaches, to be finished in five weeks.



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