Knowledge fears over coastguard closure

The Coastguard station at Crosby
The Coastguard station at Crosby
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UNION bosses fear the closure of the region’s sea watch centre will lead to a lack of vital local knowledge – and lives being put at risk.

Government ministers, this week, confirmed they plan to close Liverpool Coastguard as one of eight UK stations to be axed by 2015.

Paul Maynard

Paul Maynard

Coastguards based in Holyhead in Wales will now cover Lancashire, Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway, the Isle of Man and Merseyside.

The announcement to close the Crosby Road base, which employs 22 coastguards, dashed hopes of a last minute reprieve.

Around 51,000 people from across the North West put their names to a call to save the Liverpool Coastguard Station which co-ordinates rescues off the Lancashire shoreline.

Sue Casson, of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PSU), believes the closure raises major concerns about safety around the Fylde coast.

She said: “At the moment there are 22 staff at Holyhead, they now expect the same level of staff to cover the whole of the eastern Irish Sea.

“Where we will see major delays and a risk to lives is between the initial 999 call and working out a resource to send to the incident.

“Often when we receive a call, especially on the Fylde coast, the person in trouble is panicking and can only look for landmarks to identify where they are.

“We often get called to the “glitter ball” or to “Norbreck Castle”, it will take staff in Holyhead some time to work out exactly where the incident is.

“That vital time could lead to a fatality, I think the lack of local knowledge will make a huge difference.”

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard said he has been assured local knowledge of the Fylde coast would be retained.

He added: “I’ve been told a pair-based system has been adopted because the current local knowledge of the topography would be retained.

“I was told that sort of thing is happening regularly and will introduce more resilience.”

Shipping minister Mike Penning said the station at Crosby would remain as an operational hub to train volunteers.

Mr Penning said: “The rescue facilities in the Liverpool area will be enhanced, we will utilise the buildings we have so we will not rent new buildings for the sake of it, we will have more trainers, more enhanced staff and the volunteers will have a much better service for the public to rely on.”