THE RNLI has rejected an MP's claim that a 'restricted service' at New Brighton Lifeboat station has had an impact on its life-saving work.

It follows a Freedom of Information request submitted to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency by Wallasey MP Angela Eagle, which revealed the station's lifeboat was frequently unavailable throughout last year.

The station reported having a 'restricted service', 'low crew/equipment' or being 'off-watch' on over 70 occasions.

Some of these were just for a few hours but occasionally the service was reduced for days at a time.

In 2016, the RNLI dismissed 12 members of the New Brighton Lifeboat Crew following a dispute which led to the station's temporary closure.

But the organisation has always maintained, in letters to Miss Eagle, that the loss of volunteers has had no impact on its operations, with coverage from other stations.

The MP has now requested a meeting with RNLI representatives to discuss her concerns.

She said: "The RNLI has been saving lives at sea for almost 200 years.

"But it relies heavily on the commitment and expertise of volunteers to do this vital work.

"I am, therefore, shocked to discover that a reduced service has been operating at New Brighton Lifeboat Station since 12 volunteers were dismissed in June 2016.

"I have written to the RNLI about this several times, and have been told that the dismissals had no impact on operational capacity.

"Unfortunately these figures tell a different story.

"I am seeking a meeting with the RNLI at the earliest opportunity in the hope that this situation can be resolved and the lifeboat at New Brighton can be returned to full operation capacity as soon as possible."

An RNLI spokesperson said: "While there have been times when the lifeboat at New Brighton was intermittently off service, our lifesaving capability was not affected.

"The resilience that the RNLI charity has built into the rescue service around the Wirral coast means that we were still able to provide cover from neighbouring lifeboat stations when New Brighton lifeboat was not available.

"Hoylake lifeboat, a 25-knot Shannon, is five nautical miles away and can be in the New Brighton area in 17 minutes, which is within the agreed RNLI operational standards.

"The rescue hovercraft previously based at New Brighton is also now operating successfully from Hoylake, while lifeguards provide cover on the region's beaches during the busy season.

"Additionally, Merseyside Fire and Rescue's Marine Rescue Unit operates 24/7 in the area.

"The RNLI has successfully recruited a pool of new volunteer crew who have joined long-serving New Brighton lifeboat volunteers to continue the station’s long and proud life-saving history.

"They have moved on from personnel issues which disrupted service at the station in 2016 and are working very hard, with support from RNLI staff, to ensure New Brighton has a fully competent and sustainable volunteer crew.

"This crew – both new and experienced – have shown great dedication and commitment and are all looking forward to the future at New Brighton RNLI.

"We would very much welcome being able to meet Angela Eagle to give her a better understanding of the situation and to ease any concerns she may have."