Coastguard station to stay open for 24 hours

Paul Chapman - Coastguard Closures
Paul Chapman - Coastguard Closures

BRIDLINGTON’S coastguard station will remain open 24 hours a day after the Government massively scaled back cuts to the coastguard service.

The Humber Control Centre, on Limekiln Lane, was in danger of being downgraded from a 24 hour station to opening only during the day - with the potential loss of twenty jobs.

Now after a lengthy public consultation, the Humber station - which patrols the coast from Berwick-Upon-Tweed down to the Wash - will remain open 24 hours a day. Eight other stations around the UK are still earmarked for closure.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced in the House of Commons last week that plans to have only two 24 hour ‘super centres’ in the UK, in Aberdeen and on the Solent, had been shelved but measures to modernise the service, such as linking all stations together to share workloads, were still a priority.

However, while coastguard watch officer and PCS union representative Paul Chapman believes that the announcement is ‘good news for the Humber station’, there are still ‘a number of issues’ that need to be resolved.

He said: “This announcement is good news for our station, as the question of retaining local knowledge has been answered by deciding to keep the station open 24 hours a day.

“However, details about how the new service will work still need to be addressed. The Yarmouth station is closing, so we need to see how that affects the staff at Humber, where some jobs will still be lost.

“We don’t know if the staff already working at the Humber station have to reapply for their jobs along with other coastguards around the country.

“The minister still mentioned the need to modernise, but how can it be modernisation when eight stations are closing and 150 jobs will still be lost nationwide?”

Mr Chapman praised the efforts of local people, as well as the Free Press campaign, for voicing their opposition to the plans and said that MPs had been made to listen to public concerns.

Bridlington MP Greg Knight welcomed the announcement that the Bridlington station would remain a 24 hour operation.

Mr Knight said: “The first priority of our coastguard network is to provide a world-class rescue service and we should be grateful to the hardworking staff who do this so ably.

“The way the network was structured however was widely regarded as due for modernisation”.

“Although I am disappointed that some posts in the service will be lost by 2015, Bridlington will remain a major hub for the UK coastguard network. I thank the many people who joined me in taking part in the nationwide consultation.”

Mr Knight also confirmed that he had spoken to Transport Secretary Mr Hammond after the announcement to clarify how many jobs would be affected by the new plans.

“Six posts will be lost at Bridlington by 2015, but as the station is not fully staffed at the moment, and some staff will have reached retirement age by then, the Transport Secretary said that he does not envisage any redundancies,” he said.

Mr Hammond announced that a new Maritime Operations Centre will still be based on the Solent on the South coast, as well as a disaster recovery backup facility at Dover which will also service vessels in the English Channel and serve as a coastguard subcentre.

There will continue to be eight 24 hour coastguard stations at Humber, Falmouth, Holyhead, Milford Haven, Belfast, Aberdeen, Stornaway and Shetland.

A smaller station in London will also be retained.

The centres that will close are Clyde, Forth, Portland, Liverpool, Yarmouth, Brixham, Thames and Swansea.

The changes follow a consultation period during which the government received around 1800 submissions.