The last day of January was a significant date in the diary. Dennis @Coastguard_SOS, Graham @sosmhcoastguard and myself (@lynnerosie), met up in London and went to see the Chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman. The meeting was in Portcullis House, part of the Houses of Parliament and we were all searched and had our photos taken and recorded as we went in! Thank goodness they only get published in-house, as they resemble your worst passport photos!
Whilst we were at the desk on the first floor, waiting for Louise Ellman, we saw several MPs and well-known faces. One of them was Dr Liam Fox, MP for Somerset. As Somerset is part of the large region that Swansea coastguard is responsible for, Graham asked Dr Fox what he thought of the closures, particularly that of Swansea Coastguard Station, which would obviously affect his constituents. He responded that he did not know of them and would look into it. Two things come out of this ~ firstly, we have to bombard our MPs with letters full of all the reasons the proposed closure of the Coastguard stations is a big mistake, HUGE mistake – we must never assume they know what is happening! And, secondly, a letter along these lines was sent to Dr Liam Fox and his reply thanked the sender for bringing this matter to his attention and continued by just giving the Government’s stance on the issue.
Into meeting room O and the talk was about how the Government campaign had been handled and where we were now. It would appear that the local knowledge, which everyone supporting the CoastguardSOS Campaign knows to be so very important in dangerous life and death situations, was dismissed relatively early. Why this should be so, shows the lack of an in-depth inquiry into the proposals given by the landlocked Mike Penning, MP for Hemel Hempstead. Mr Penning will not have too much use for the Coastguard where he lives; but for others, this fourth emergency service is the difference between life and death. His favourite word during the process has been ‘resilience’. As a person with no actual ties to the coastguard service, other than complete respect for what they and the RNLI do each and every day, I believe the Coastguards to be very honourable men and women with enthusiasm for their job and the local knowledge that will continue to keep our coastguard service able to boast it is the best in the world – if there are no cuts! The ‘perfect storm’ would be a terrible situation to try this out!
Take a minute to digest the fact that no other emergency service has a national Operations Centre. Why? Because they simply don’t work, local knowledge saves lives! Plus, the proposed centre was supposed to be a building that was ready-for-use – hmm, I don’t think so!
Louise Ellman is a delightful and genuine lady who really does care about what happens here. We can make a difference, we can campaign to get this looked at again, on the grounds that the consultation process has not been transparent ~ it was flawed with a lot of incorrect information; and important factors were ignored. This is not democracy, this is autocracy – something this government excels in.
We all need to write to our MPs – click on ‘our MPs’ for the link to their details. We cannot assume that MPs are aware of changes that are taking place in their constituencies, as is shown above!
We just need to get a few more signatures on this government e-petition – Stop the closure of MCA Coastguard Stations. We need to get 100,000 signatures – that’s not a lot, just ask all your friends, family and colleagues to drop by and sign! The link is under the title, just click on that!
Can we do it – Yes we can!
Written by Lynne Gray