THE future of Bridlington’s Coastguard Control Centre could be looking brighter.
That is the view of coastguard watch officer and PCS union representative Paul Chapman, who was encouraged by the level of concern shown by MPs in a House of Commons debate on cuts to the coastguard service last week.
And Bridlington MP Greg Knight, who attended the debate, has revealed for the first time that he hopes the Humber Control Station, on Limekiln Lane, can “continue to stay open for 24 hours a day”.
Ministers have drawn up plans to replace Bridlington’s Humber Control Centre, along with 17 others around the UK, with two larger 24-hour bases on the Solent and in Aberdeen.
Bridlington’s station would then become one of only six around the UK who remain open, but on a daytime only basis, which would see the loss of around 20 local jobs.
Bridlington MP Greg Knight, who attended the packed debate along with MPs from nine other parties, said: “I had the chance to speak with the minister before the debate began and he assured me that no decision has been made.
“Everyone who spoke at the debate feels strongly about the service, it was encouraging to know that the minister was attentive and confirmed he was listening to people’s concerns.
“Anything that is said about the proposals already being being confirmed is just speculation, so it is vitally important that people feed their views into the consultation process.
“In my opinion we need national coordination, as that is important, but I hope that whatever the plans confirm, we see the Humber station continuing to stay open 24 hours a day.
“Since the last major shake-up of the coastguard, technology has developed rapidly and change is necessary, but I want to see changes impinge on the Humber station as little as possible.”
Mr Chapman said: “Watching the debate, it was encouraging to see that so many people had concerns, it seems things might be turning in our direction.
“I am confident that these plans cannot fly through as they are.
The plans have been widely criticised by serving coastguards, other rescue teams, unions and the public, who accuse the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Government of valuing cost-cutting over public safety.
“Coastguards and unions are not against change, but managers need to bring the plans back to the drawing board and speak with serving coastguards to find the best way forward,” said Mr Chapman.
“Lots of jobs are going to be lost in the town, and for an already economically depressed area such as Bridlington, that is terrible news.
“Any changes to the coastguard service should not mean a loss of local knowledge, and does not mean putting people’s lives at risk.
More than 5,000 people have signed a petition against the proposals. Copies are circulating around Bridlington and are available at the Free Press office.
An online petition can be signed at www.gopetition.com/petition/42196