The UK Government via the Maritime & Coastguard Agency have announced that the closure of the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Brixham will take place during November 2014.
The fight to save Brixham Coastguard rescue coordination centre is not over. We are urgently seeking volunteers who would be interested in becoming a local liaison officer or supporters to campaign as an extension of the National Coastguard SOS Campaign in the Brixham area. If you are interested in learning more please email your contact details and information to firstname.lastname@example.org
Coastguard stations ‘to close towards the end of 2014’
The Solent, Portland and Brixham coastguard stations will close towards the end of next year, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has said.
The stations, which co-ordinate search and rescue services, are being replaced by the operations centre in Segensworth, Hampshire.
The stations in Solent and Portland will close next September and Brixham’s will shut in November.
They were provisionally set to close by next April.
The new Maritime Operations Centre will be run alongside nine other 24-hour centres around the UK.
The MCA said there would be no reduction in rescue resources.
The majority of staff from the south coast stations were expected to relocate to the new centre, which is expected to be operating from autumn 2014.
Sir Alan Massey, MCA chief executive, said: “There’s been a lot of local kickback and I can completely understand it.
“I can really reassure people that what we’re doing is going to improve the service that they get.”
The agency said Dorset’s coastguard helicopter base at Portland was still expected to close in 2017.
South Dorset MP Richard Drax said he was fighting “tooth and nail” to retain the centres and helicopter base.
“The fact we now have a date is of no comfort to me,” he said. “Centralisation is not always the right answer.
“The men and women who work at the centres live there, they get up there every morning, they know the place intimately, they can assess instantly which asset to use to rescue people.”
An online petition led by Mr Drax opposing the closure of the Portland helicopter base attracted 17,000 signatures.
A Public and Commercial Services Union spokesman said the plans would “put lives at risk” and that the “people of Brixham and across the South West don’t want it”.
Coastguard campaigners submit formal response
CAMPAIGNERS fighting controversial cuts to the UK Coastguard service have submitted their formal response to the Transport Select Committee Inquiry who are examining the affect that closures will have on coastal areas.
Despite two public consultations, the national Coastguard SOS Campaign Group remain concerned that the plan, which will see the closure of Coastguard rescue coordination centres at Liverpool, Brixham, Clyde, Portland, Thames, Swansea, Forth and Yarmouth remains dangerously flawed.
Speaking on behalf of the SOS group; Dennis O’Connor said: “The planned closure of Coastguard rescue coordination centres is not based upon operational reasoning.
“We are very concerned that insufficient consideration has been given to the affect that the loss of stations will have on coastal communities and on the safety of those who use the coast for recreational and commercial purposes.”
The Government plan is to centralise incident coordination responsibilities and distribute the workload to quieter stations.
Campaigners are adamant that this will increase the risks involved.
Mr O’Connor added: “The planned centralisation of incident coordination has been rejected by Coastguard officers and campaigners because essential local knowledge will be lost.
“The Maritime and Coastguard Agency are pinning everything on the trials of, as yet unproven technology to ‘capture’ local knowledge but with the first of the stations due to close in a matter of weeks it is highly likely that key knowledge will be lost.”
In the recent Cabinet reshuffle, Justine Greening MP was replaced as Secretary of State for Transport by Patrick McLoughlin MP and Mike Penning MP the UK Shipping Minister who has been a central figure in plans to close Coastguard stations was replaced by Stephen Hammond MP. Dennis O’Connor said “the recent reshuffle has brought fresh hope that the new Ministers will adopt more of an open dialogue approach and will urgently reconsider the closure programme. We have written to both Mr McLoughlin and Mr Hammond requesting a meeting at their earliest convenience in order that we may be able to assess the affect that the change in Ministers will have on the closure plans”.
Submissions to the Transport Select Committee inquiry must be received no later than 14th September and the SOS campaign group are urging maritime stakeholders and the public to submit their concerns. Details of the inquiry may be found at http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/transport-committee/news/coastguard-tor/ or on the Coastguard SOS Campaign website http://www.coastguardsos.com
Brixham – Save our Station Campaign (SOS)
Thousands of people have already backed calls to maintain a coastguard presence in Brixham after government proposals to close the station as part of cash-saving cuts.
The campaign to keep the station open has the support of the local newspaper the Herald Express, councillors from across the political spectrum, local businesses, the public and Torbay’s MP Adrian Sanders.
Local people have been getting right behind the campaign with a local business producing thousands of orange ribbons, to signify the colour of the rescue boat, which members of the public can purchase to show their support. An Italian pizza cafe in Torquay has created buoy shaped pizzas to show their support for the campaign and a passenger ferry moored opposite Brixham Coastguard station has had a lick of paint to get behind the Save Our Station campaign by having a SOS message painted on its side by the owner.
PCS members and supporters of the campaign have had stalls and leafleted in Brixham, Paignton and Torquay. On Thursday 10 March around 400 people, led by the South West PCS Regional banner and members and supporters waving PCS flags, marched from the South Key to the Coastguard station for a rally were coastguard and PCS rep Les Jenkin spoke along with local councilors and members of the fishing industry to condemn the proposed closure.
The march was a prelim for a public meeting held in the evening where Tom Borland, regional director of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the organization’s coastal safety manager Peter Mizen faced a crowd of about 300 people to discuss the closure plans.
The MCA was accused by one member at the meeting of “vandalising the coastguard service and describing the consultation over planned cuts as a “whitewash”. Others contributed that “We have got the expertise here: if it ain’t broke, why mend it?” and many brought up the issue that the local knowledge lost as a result of the cuts could cost lives at sea.
Peter Mitzen tried to defend the MCAs position and was jeered loudly when he described the current system as “highly inefficient”.
Because of the campaign, the1,000 or so responses already received along with the public outcry the consultation period has been extended by a further six weeks.
Members can respond to MCA directly as well as emailing their MP
Saturday, June 18, 2011 in Permalink
Sheryll Murray makes a heartfelt plea for the retention of local marine rescue co-ordination centres
By Jonathan Isaby – MPsetc
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Tuesday this week saw a debate in Westminster Hall initiated by a Labour MP on the future of the coastguard service. The first speech from a Conservative MP came from Sheryll Murray, MP for South East Cornwall and her contribution was all the more poignant because her husband, a fisherman, was killed in an accident a sea just three months ago.
She took the opportunity in this week’s debate to make a plea to the transport minister, Mike Penning, not to close local marine rescue co-ordination centres (MRCCs):
“I am pleased that we are looking at the co-ordination role of the coastguard co-ordination stations, which has not always been focused on in other debates, and at their role in overseeing incidents at sea. It is the local coastguards who pull together the emergency services during an incident and who, over many years, have built up relationships with those services. We remove that local relationship at our peril.
“I firmly believe, as did my late husband, that there should be modernisation of coastguard equipment to allow, for example, the position of vessels transmitting with the voluntary class B automatic indicator system to be identified easily, but that there should be no cull of marine rescue co-ordination centres. Because of my personal position, I have received representations from concerned sea users all over the country, but it is appropriate for me to concentrate on my own area.
“The marine rescue co-ordination centre in Brixham covers my constituency of South East Cornwall, and has built up unique experience from so many incidents over many years. The search and rescue area covered by Brixham stretches from Dodman Point halfway along the south coast of Cornwall to Exmouth in Devon, and it is essential to emphasise something I am sure the Minister will recognise and agree with— that local knowledge of topography saves lives. The care that I was afforded on 25 March by Looe RNLI crew and Brixham and Looe coastguards was beyond anything I could have expected, and I thank all those involved in the emergency services, and indeed the south-west fishing industry, for their kindness.
“This past Saturday I spent time with my local RNLI personnel and my local volunteer coastguards, who are all concerned about the Minister’s proposals. They feel that he has not had the opportunity to speak to people who operate at the sharp end, and I would like to invite the Minister to visit Looe — if his busy schedule allows it — to hear for himself their concerns.”