NEW Brighton lifeboat will be out of service for several weeks following an ongoing dispute with crew volunteers over a new training programme and station management.

The RNLI had decided to stand down 12 volunteers who, it said, refused to commit to the standards required of volunteers, which means that New Brighton will not be able to operate safely in the short term.

While the station is closed, its work will be covered by lifeboatmen stationed at Hoylake and West Kirby and local lifeguards.

It is hoped to reopen next month.

In a statement, the organisation said New Brighton branch "has been affected by a dispute over several issues, which include the introduction of a new training programme, the station’s management, outcomes of an investigation into various issues with the lifeboat crew, the attempts to address deficiencies at the lifeboat station and alleged breaches of the RNLI’s Volunteer Code of Conduct.”

In a statement, it said: “Over the next few weeks, RNLI teams will work with the station’s remaining volunteers, offering enhanced training and support, and creating a more positive environment for the crew.

“We would like to reassure the public that we are confident that the lifesaving service provided by the RNLI to the people of Merseyside and the Wirral will continue to be carried out effectively by RNLI lifeboats stationed at Hoylake, West Kirby and by local lifeguards.

“The area will also continue to be served by Mersey Marine Fire 1 and we are working closely with HM Coastguard through this interim period.”

Lee Firman, divisional operations manager said: “Those stood down are clearly unhappy but they do not represent the views of the majority of the crew, who we are pleased to say want to continue with the RNLI.

“We plan to train the remaining crew to the required standard and also ensure they subscribe to the RNLI’s values and codes of conduct, which are critical to the running of a first-class lifesaving service. We will also be seeking to recruit new lifeboat crew to the station.

“We explored a number of options for New Brighton before taking this step. Closing a lifeboat station, even temporarily, is not a decision to be taken lightly but we are confident that this is the right way forward.

‘The RNLI has a duty of care to its lifeboat volunteers and to ensure that they feel safe, accepted and can volunteer within a welcoming environment.

“They should also expect to receive the right training, skills and equipment to meet the challenge of saving lives at sea. This is what we will be working with the New Brighton crew to achieve.

“The RNLI expects all lifeboat crew to abide by its codes of conduct and to ensure their skills and training are kept up to date.

“Where this is not the case, particularly where negative behaviour is involved, the RNLI will not hesitate to intervene and help crew become a coherent, safe and efficient team.

“The RNLI strives to create a culture within lifeboat stations where crew members can trust each other, and are able to progress and develop into senior roles.

“New Brighton has a proud history of lifesaving and we are confident that, with the goodwill of the volunteers, the lifeboat will soon be back on service for the people of Merseyside and the Wirral.”

A statement issued on behalf of the 12 recently dismissed crewmen said: "Our first concern has always been the safety of the public - that is why we gave our time, dedication and passion to the RNLI. 

"We would go to sea right now despite the way we have been treated if we were called upon. 

"We are proud of our station which has been in existence since 1863 and we were proud to be part of the RNLI.

"Our dispute is with individuals within that organisation who do not seem to care about our issues. 

"There is no issue over training.

There was an issue last year regarding the way a new training regime was implemented (which has failed miserably) but training has been ongoing at the station. 

"The RNLI state that public safety will not be affected by the closure of New Brighton Lifeboat Station.

"Our nearest station is Hoylake, who are a fantastic crew with a state of the art boat, however, they cannot get around the coast quick enough in an emergency.

"New Brighton Lifeboat, until recent months could be in the water within 10 minutes, only last year a number of youngsters were saved who had minutes to live.

"Imagine searching for a swimmer and only seeing a hand sticking out of the water, this youngster is alive because of the skill and dedication of that crew as well as their quick response. 

"We also have a hovercraft which can save people from mud. The next nearest hovercraft is at Morecambe. 

"We the former crew members want the public realise that there is a lot more to this story than they are being told and we only hope that the truth eventually comes out so we can go back to doing what we have been doing so well for many decades, saving lives at sea and being there to protect your families 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

"There was no reason to remove these crew, they were and still are the experience that meant that every time the lifeboat went to sea it had a well-trained and effective crew."