Coastguard station closure concerns

Lytham coastguard station officer Paul Little
Lytham coastguard station officer Paul Little
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The station officer of a Fylde coastguard centre has admitted the service faces an uncertain future as a key regional station prepares to close.

Liverpool Coastguard Station is to close on January 16, with Holyhead Station in Wales handling emergency calls for Blackpool, Lytham, St Annes and Fleetwood.

The Crosby station is to shut, with the loss of around a dozen jobs, after the Government announced it would streamline the service.

But Lytham coastguard station officer Paul Little warned the move could prove problematic for rescue services.

He added: “My worry is the lack of local knowledge. There will be more onus put on ourselves.

“From that side of things there is not a great deal we can do. There should be no change for the general public.

“I think we may get more calls though. It concerns me as we have a rapport with people around there (Liverpool).

“We show them round the coast, show hot spots and gives a mental picture. I do not believe the new people will be allowed to do that.”

The Government announced in 2011 the Crosby-based centre was one of nine stations around the UK which would close.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said a new national network would be completed by the end of 2015 which would enable the operations centre and the 10 remaining coastguard stations to work together.

A spokesman for the MCA, said: “Holyhead Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) has worked closely with Liverpool over the years as their ‘paired’ station, and will now take over Liverpool’s operational area.

“Under the new system Holyhead MRCC will have a much better support network available to them. Therefore, if they find themselves dealing with one, two or three significant incidents, they can focus on those while the National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) can handle the more routine work.

“It also doesn’t have to be the NMOC that can assist either. The new joined-up system could mean any other MRCC has the technical capability to help out.”

Liverpool Coastguard covers waters from the Point of Ayr on the Dee Estuary through Merseyside, Morecambe and South Cumbria, all the way up to the Mull of Galloway, as well as between the Isle of Man and Ireland.