Coastguard cuts plan scaled back

Paul Chapman - Coastguard Closures
Paul Chapman - Coastguard Closures

CONTROVERSIAL plans which threatened to see the Humber Control Centre in Bridlington cut from a 24-hour station to a daytime only service have been scaled back by government ministers.

Plans had been drawn up to replace Bridlington’s station, along with 17 others around the UK, with two larger 24-hour bases on the Solent and in Aberdeen.

The Limekiln Lane station would then have become one of only six around the UK which would remain open, but on a daytime only basis, which would have seen the loss of around 20 local jobs and, according to coastguards, threatened the safety of the public along the North East coastline.

Last week the Leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young, told MPs the Government was “having another look” at the proposals and would respond before the Commons breaks for summer in July.

The fate of Bridlington’s station is still unclear until new plans are announced, but it is thought that an overwhelming lack of support from working coastguards and coastal rescue teams have forced the government to think again.

Paul Chapman, a Coastguard Watch Officer at Limekiln Lane, and branch secretary of the Public and Communication Services Union (PCSU) said: “I am still not optimistic. There will be changes to the original plan but I believe it is still the intention to close down a lot of stations. I do not know what this means in terms of the Humber Centre, it may not be turned into a daytime only centre, but it could even close. We still do not know. No-one is saying anything.”

However, the union’s general secretary Mark Serwotka has said the “climbdown” was evidence of what can be achieved by community campaigning.

He added: “It is not yet clear what any new proposals will include and there are still battles to be won to maintain vital local services that our members provide 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We would expect new plans to be subject to proper consultation and negotiation.”

The original plans had gone before a parliamentary select committee, which ended this week.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Our proposals are in response to a long-overdue need to bring the way coastguard rescues are co-ordinated into the 21st century, making this vital rescue service stronger, more resilient and improving its services at the front line. The Government is committed to taking all points of view into account before deciding how best to proceed.”