‘Coastguard cuts could cost lives’

MP Paul Maynard (below) hopes an inquiry will be able to iron out issues over the closure of Coastguard stations.
MP Paul Maynard (below) hopes an inquiry will be able to iron out issues over the closure of Coastguard stations.
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A CAMPAIGNER against cuts to the Coastguard service says there could be fatal consequences if the Government presses ahead with reforms.

Under the proposals responsibilty for operations on the Fylde coast would be transferred from 
Liverpool, which is set to be closed, to a centre in Belfast.

MP Paul Maynard

MP Paul Maynard

And Chris Jameson, from the Blackpool branch of pressure group Coastguard SOS, believes this could lead to an increase in the number of tragedies at sea because all-important local knowledge would be lost to those handling SOS calls from those in peril at sea.

He said: “We’ve got no problem with modernising the coastguard service, what we have a problem with is that it’s purely down to a cost cutting exercise and it’s going to end up costing lives.

“There are a considerable number of problems here, the coastguard service is being treated like a second-rate service.

“This would not happen to the police, ambulance or fire services because nobody would stand for it.”

Along with Liverpool, stations at Clyde, Forth, Portland, Yarmouth, Brixham, Thames and Swansea are also set to close by 2015.

The Parliamentary Transport Select Committee has recently re-opened an inquiry into the Government’s plans.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard, who formerly sat on the committee, said: “I’m sure it will give a chance for all the concerns that various campaigns have to be fully aired and I’m sure the wrinkles in the process will be smoothed out.”

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency say the closure would have “no effect” on operations in the Blackpool area.

He said: “We utilise the knowledge of our own coastguard and rescue teams, and other assets local to the area.”

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