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Coastguard staff cuts spark worry

Anne Marie Sagar on the Lower Walk, where her son David (below) died.

Anne Marie Sagar on the Lower Walk, where her son David (below) died.

  • by Alex Ross
 

CAMPAIGNERS claim staff shortages at an under threat coastguard station are putting lives at risk.

Liverpool Coastguard, which runs operations on the Fylde coast, lost six members of staff in four months after they left and were not replaced due to cutbacks.

Fewer staff are now dealing with more calls to the station and one pressure group says something needs to give.

Coastguard SOS is urging ministers to re-think their decision on cutting staff before it is too late.

Fylde coast spokesman Chris Jameson said: “It’s at a very critical level now and safety is really being compromised, not just here, but all around the country.

“The Government can’t keep running services by making people work more, especially when you are trying to save lives. We are extremely worried about staffing levels.”

The safety fears come as a mother who lost her son when he fell off the sea wall called for youngsters to be given lessons to help them in emergencies.

Anne-Marie Sagar’s son David, 17, of Lewtas Street, Blackpool, died in the tragic accident in March opposite Gynn Square.

The Gazette’s Think Sea Safety campaign was launched shortly afterwards in a bid to prevent people from getting into danger.

Mrs Sagar added: “If they are going to start making cuts they have to do more safety awareness courses for young people. One thing which failed David was the fact nobody knew what to do other than call the coastguard before it was too late.”

Liverpool’s coastguard station in Crosby is set to shutdown completely by 2014 and all emergency calls will be handled in Fareham, near Southampton.

Mrs Sagar added: “If it’s going to be moved down south it’s going to take longer for the messages to get here.”

Su Daintith, spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) at Liverpool Coastguard, says staff are being put under increasing pressure as more people leave the base.

She added: “We are still able to provide a service but it means staff are under more pressure to do the tasks they need to.”

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said: “It must be clearly demonstrated that any reduction in staffing levels does not compromise maritime safety on the Fylde coast.

“Those making staffing decisions need to set out clearly the basis for these changes and assure people they will not compromise the quality of the coastguard service.”

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