Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign v. RNLI

The request was partially successful.

Dear Charity Commission for England and Wales,

I am making this request for information on behalf of the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign. The Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign (CLC) was formed on July 4th 2017 in response to the RNLI’s decision to strip New Quay of its All-weather Lifeboat in 2020, replacing it with an Atlantic 85 inshore vessel.

The community-driven CLC action group is made up of representatives of local fishermen, boat trip operators, yacht clubs, rowing clubs, long-time fundraisers, and other committed supporters of New Quay Lifeboat Station. There are also crew members in the group, independently supporting the campaign in their own right. We have over 25,000 petition signatures.

Our MP is building up cross-party political support in Westminster; the Leader of the House of Commons and members of the House of Lords have already backed our campaign. We have support too from a growing number of Welsh Assembly Members, including the Presiding Officer, and the unanimous backing of Ceredigion County Council. The Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner, the Welsh Fisherman’s Association, and a wide range of other groups, associations, communities, and influential individuals across the UK have also offered their support.

When the decision was announced, 14 months ago it came as a shock to many as it was unexpected. We have not been able to identify a single organisation or individual that has been consulted specifically about the removal of the all weather lifeboat. From the outset we have been asking to see what evidence of any consultation that has taken place but the RNLI has refused to provide us with any evidence.

This decision has caused significant concern and leaves many along the coast feeling vulnerable. Nobody understands this decision and the RNLI has refused to provide us with any of the information surrounding how they have arrived at a decision of this magnitude. Not only does it depart from the status quo of over 150 years but also makes the objectives detailed in their ‘Plans and Purpose’ document unachievable in Cardigan Bay.

Public Interest

As an authority you must consider the relative weight of the arguments for and against disclosure. There can be little prejudice in disclosing the information as the decision has already been arrived at. This decision is fairly recent so all the information should be easily accessible. Crucially, the information we have requested will inform us to what extent the RNLI has consulted with its principal stakeholder and further our understanding of how this decision has been arrived at. This information is not available from any other source and is not in the public domain as the RNLI is refusing to be transparent and accountable.

There is a public interest in transparency and accountability, to promote public understanding and to safeguard democratic processes. There is a public interest in good decision-making by public bodies, in upholding standards of integrity, in ensuring justice and fair treatment for all, in securing the best use of public resources and in ensuring fair commercial competition in a mixed economy.

Further to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 we request the following information:

1. Any written correspondence, communication between the Charity Commission and the RNLI following the CLC complaint to the Charity Commission from October 2017 to date

2. Since the stage 2 complaint process was halted in January 2019 and the case returned to the regulatory department please confirm whether there has been any further communication between the Charity Commission and the RNLI. If yes, please provide a written record of any of those communications and their outcome on the enquiry into the CLC complaint against the RNLI.

3. The Charity Commission in their response to the CLC complaint in a letter dated 15 March 2019 refer to being satisfied that ‘some consultation’ had been carried out by the RNLI. Please confirm what evidence the Charity Commission has seen to support this statement. To clarify what we mean by evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

Yours faithfully,

Sara Powell
Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign

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RIGA Casework (Queue), Charity Commission for England and Wales

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Powell,

Please see attached our response to your request for information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Yours sincerely,

Lucy Breakspere

Information Rights and Complaints Manager

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