Westerly owners 'express unusually strong views'


The world’s largest yacht owner group has slammed plans to change the way the coastguard operates in a letter to the government.

In its letter to the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Mike Penning, the Westerly Owners’ Association (WOA) said the plans did ‘not reflect the interests of leisure craft sailors in British waters, even though they comprise the greatest number of coastal maritime users’.

The government wants to cut the number of 24-hour coastguard stations from 18 to three at Dover, Aberdeen and Southampton/Portsmouth with five more centres open in daylight hours.

The association is concerned about losing the local knowledge of the to-be-closed stations and it feels the proposals assume vessels are carrying expensive electronic aids, ‘which are not carried by the majority of small craft’.

The letter says: ‘We are not satisfied that the proposed arrangements will in any way substitute for the knowledge gained by coastguards working in the coastal community they serve.

‘Great concern has been expressed from our members in Wales and Scotland. Their local language and dialects are unique to the area. They have no confidence that the modernisation proposals will make suitable provision for this.

Andrew Truscott, WOA’s rear commodore, said: ‘The Westerly Owners’ Association has over 3,000 members and represents the interests of recreational sailors with boats all less than 50ft in length.

‘The need to modernise the coastguard service is accepted, but what has been presented in the discussion document causes our membership great concern.

‘We are not a campaigning organisation but on this issue our membership has expressed unusually strong views and the wish for a formal response to a set of proposals it sees as unacceptable.’

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