RNLI sticks to its guns over radio licence fees

The RNLI is refusing to back down in its battle with Ofcom to be exempt from paying licence fees for using maritime radio frequencies.

More than 20,000 people have signed a petition started by RNLI supporter Ian Smith on www.number10.gov.uk, the official site of the Prime Minister's Office.

The communications regulator has proposed a new pricing structure that the RNLI has estimated would increase its annual fees from £38,000 to £260,000.

Ofcom responded to the petition by saying it planned to change the way the fees were calculated, which might mean the RNLI paying only £20,000 a year.

Peter Bradley, operations manager at the RNLI, described Ofcom's response as "woolly". He added: "We can't turn the heat off just because they are making a suggestion that might not happen.

"We don't pay fees for boats, so a precedent is being set. We provide a valuable service - if we didn't, the Government would have to."

An Ofcom spokeswoman said it was willing to listen to the RNLI.

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