Four petitions launched
Coastal communities are protesting despite five Coastguard stations being saved in the government’s rejigged plans to restructure the service.
Stations at Swansea, Brixham, Clyde, Forth, Portland, Liverpool, Great Yarmouth and the Thames will close down from next year and residents in those towns remain unhappy about the closures.
Campaigns have been launched in Portland, Swansea, Liverpool and Great Yarmouth with local MPs vowing to lobby against the closures of the Clyde, Forth and Brixham.
More than 1,100 people have already signed a petition in Weymouth and Portland to make their town the home of the coastguard’s new superhub, which has been earmarked for either Southampton or Portsmouth.
Swansea is home to Wales’ busiest coastguard station, but still faces the axe ahead of Milford Haven and Holyhead. Residents there held a public meeting on Friday to launch a campaign to save the station, which will feature rallies and a petition.
Liverpool Garston MP, Maria Eagle, who is also the shadow transport secretary, said: ‘Given the complexities of the waters off Liverpool Bay, (the closure) means that lives will be lost.’
Norfolk County Councillor Paul Rice has announced that he will also begin a petition to keep the coastguard in Yarmouth.
From now until October 6 the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) is in the second phase of consultation on the plans to modernise the service.
North Ayrshire MP Katy Clark said closing the Greenock-based Clyde station would leave a coastline longer than the entire French seaboard without cover. She said: ‘There is a very real threat safety will be jeopardised by this closure.’
Lindsay Roy, Labour MP for Glenrothes, described closing the Forth station as ‘devastating and reckless’. He said: ‘As we have seen from previous experience, local knowledge is vital in dealing with emergency incidents and a few minutes delay can cost lives.’
Conservative MP for Totnes Sarah Wollaston said she would continue to press the ‘very strong’ case for Brixham to remain open.
She said: ‘Safety is paramount. Brixham assisted more than 1,900 people last year and saved over 350 lives.’