Lincolnshire

Aldi defies Skegness traders' 'inflatable ban'

Lifeguard on beach in Skegness Image copyright RNLI
Image caption Skegness, which is often described as "bracing", is known for its strong winds

Aldi has come under fire for breaking a traders' agreement banning the sale of inflatables in a seaside town.

Shops in Skegness, which is known for strong coastal winds, had agreed to stop selling the toys in response to people being swept out to sea on them.

But Aldi, which opened in the town last year, has continued to sell a range of inflatables despite being challenged by a former mayor.

The supermarket said it encouraged customers to use the items safely.

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Image caption BBC reporter Gemma Dawson bought a giant inflatable pineapple from Aldi in Skegness earlier

The former mayor of Skegness, Sue Binch, said she asked Aldi to stop selling inflatables in accordance with the unwritten agreement, which has been in place for five years.

She said although the toys carry safety warnings "they might as well be in Chinese because people don't read them".

Image copyright John Byford
Image caption The RNLI said it had seen an increase in incidents due to the hot weather

Mrs Binch said she was told by Aldi's area manager they were unaware of the agreement and the matter had now been passed to head office.

She acknowledged that some people bring their own inflatable toys to the beach but added that Aldi had been adding to the problem.

In a statement, Aldi said: "We strongly encourage all customers to use inflatables safely.

"The instructions provided with our large inflatables clearly state that they should not be used in strong winds or when there is a current, and that life jackets should be worn at all times while using them."

One local business owner, Monica Johns, said her shop stopped selling inflatables on the grounds of safety.

"We just decided to do away with them completely," she said.

Skegness RNLI said it has dealt with a number of incidents involving people being swept out to sea on inflatables during the recent hot weather.

On Tuesday, a man had to be rescued after he fell asleep on an inflatable.

Image copyright RNLI
Image caption The RNLI has warned about the dangers of using inflatables in the sea

Posting on Facebook about the incident, the RNLI said: "This is yet another incident involving inflatables. Please do not use these in the sea 🌊."

Adam Holmes from the charity said they were "inherently" unsafe when used at the seaside.

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