The UK Government via the Maritime & Coastguard Agency has officially announced the closure of the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Liverpool will take place during January 2015

The fight to save Liverpool 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 Liverpool / west coast area. If you are interested in learning more please email your contact details and information to Chris Jameson chris@coastguardsos.com or info@coastguardsos.com

 

 

Liverpool Coastguard Station to close in January 2015

Holyhead centre set to take its place

HM Coastguard Station in Crosby
HM Coastguard Station in Crosby

Liverpool Coastguard Station is to close in January 2015, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has confirmed.

The government announced in 2011 that the Crosby-based centre was one of nine stations around the UK which would close over the next four years.

A Save Your Liverpool Coastguard campaign had been launched after it was announced the station was to be axed with the facility at Holyhead in North Wales now set to take its place.

The MCA said a new national network would be completed by the end of 2015 which would enable the operations centre and the 10 remaining coastguard stations to work together.

A spokesperson for the MCA, said: “Holyhead Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) has worked closely with Liverpool over the years as their ‘paired’ station, and will now take over Liverpool’s operational area.

“Under the new system Holyhead MRCC will have a much better support network available to them. Therefore, if they find themselves dealing with one, two or three significant incidents, they can focus on those while the National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) can handle the more routine work.

“It also doesn’t have to be the NMOC that can assist either. The new joined-up system could mean any other MRCC has the technical capability to help out.”

Liverpool Coastguard covers waters from the Point of Ayr on the Dee Estuary through Merseyside, Morecambe and South Cumbria, all the way up to the Mull of Galloway.

It also covers some of the Irish Sea, up to the halfway point between the Isle of Man and Ireland.

It is thought 20 jobs will go at the Crosby centre as a result of its closure.

 

As the only Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre on the west coast of England, the men and women of Liverpool Coastguard are responsible for keeping you, your family, your sea, and your shoreline safe.

From the Point of Ayr in North Wales to the Mull of Galloway in Southwest Scotland, the four main lakes in the Lake District, and the waters around the Isle of Man, the coastguard officers at Liverpool coordinate the response to many and varied emergencies. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the experienced, dedicated, and professional staff at Liverpool Coastguard are there to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones.

Liverpool Coastguard is responsible for Search and Rescue for the offshore, inshore and shoreline areas of the Irish Sea from the river Dee in North Wales, to the Mull of Galloway in South West Scotland. This also includes the waters around the Isle of Man and the four main lakes of the Lake District.

Within this area of responsibility are oil and gas fields, wind farms, busy commercial ports, marinas and yacht clubs, beaches and popular tourist areas, civil and military airports, fishing grounds & cockle beds and military firing/exercise areas.

 

The coastguard officers at Liverpool coordinate the response to many and varied emergencies:

  • Sinking and broken-down or drifting vessels
  • Aircraft incidents
  • People cut-off by the tide
  • Mud rescues
  • Cliff rescues
  • Pollution at sea and shore
  • Missing persons
  • Animal rescues
  • Civil emergency response (flooding etc)
  • Assisting other emergency services

More information:

  • Liverpool Coastguard is responsible for an area of sea over 5000 square nautical miles (6621 square miles) and over 750 miles of coastline. They are the only Coastguard station to have liaison duties with agencies from Wales, England, Scotland, and also the Isle of Man.They coordinate search and rescue on Windermere, Ullswater, Derwentwater, and Coniston and are also called to help with dive incidents in the deepest lake in the Lake District, Wast Water. With 15.8 million visitors to the Lake District alone, they are potentially responsible for a great number of people (source: STEAM 2009: Cumbria Tourism).
  • The Port of Liverpool is a busy shipping port, with 0.75 million people travelling on the Irish Sea ferry services annually and there is a growing number of cruise ships visiting the port, in addition to merchant shipping. The Port of Liverpool is ranked among the UK’s major container ports and expanding. Liverpool handles over 40% of all freight shipping between Britain and Ireland. The grain terminal in Liverpool is the largest in Britain, helping to supply some of the UK’s best-known names in food manufacturing. (Source: http://www.shipcanal.co.uk/port-of-liverpool) (To view live shipping movements, please click on Ship AIS)Aircraft approaching and departing the four international airports within Liverpool’s district (Manchester, Liverpool, Blackpool, and Ronaldsway) often do so over the sea. Should the worst happen and a civilian aircraft has to ditch in the sea, Liverpool Coastguard are responsible for coordinating the search and rescue response. (To view live flight path tracks, please click on Flight Radar.)13 million people visited Blackpool alone last year making it the most visited seaside resort in the UK (source: Blackpool Gazette). With other regions such as Cumbria and the South of Scotland experiencing more visitors to their shores for camping, caravaning and walking holidays, Liverpool Coastguard is responsible for them all, should they get into trouble walking cliff and coastal routes, along beaches, or paddling in the sea.Within Liverpool Coastguard’s district there are 5 windfarms either currently operational or under construction, with staff maintaining and constructing them out on the water in workboats on a daily basis. In addition there is a ship anchored off the south Cumbrian coast to provide accommodation for the workers. There are also plans for another, extremely large, windfarm to be constructed in the south-eastern Irish Sea.There are over 10 offshore oil/gas platforms in Liverpool Coastguard’s district, some of which are manned. There is the potential for there to be over 200 people working on the platforms, all of whom are Liverpool Coastguard’s responsibility.The Irish Sea is an area of prime fishing, both offshore and close inshore, such as shrimping, scalloping and cockling. The fishermen range from professional fishermen in purpose-built vessels to amateurs catching a meal. Both types can be in need of Liverpool Coastguard’s assistance, either for providing weather and tidal advice as a preventative measure, or in their capacity as search and rescue coordinators should the weather, tide, or mud/quicksand (in the case of cocklers and shore anglers) catch them out.

    Liverpool Coastguard regularly assist other emergency services in providing additional manpower, local knowledge, purpose-built vehicles and specialist search and rescue equipment via coastguard rescue teams for incidents such as searching for missing people. Operations rooms staff also have access to a cache of reporting members, who although not part of the coastguard service, often provide invaluable local knowledge which can be of assistance.

    In times of a major incident such as the flooding in Cumbria, Liverpool Coastguard is called upon to take a leading role as a communications hub for all the organisations involved. Representatives of the organisations involved are able to easily attend the Liverpool Coastguard Coordination Centre and remain updated with the situation as it progresses. This enables the best possible response to be provided, as all the authorities are able to very quickly communicate with each other.

Here are some incident statistics for Liverpool since 2000:
2000 ————— 8442001 ————— 7512002 ————— 7722003 ————— 8252004 ————— 8812005 ————— 992

2006 ————- 1101

2007 ————- 1279

2008 ————— 971

2009 ————- 1295

2010 ————- 1218

Total incidents since 2000: 10,929

 

What you can do to help the campaign to save Liverpool:

The government consultation closed on the 6th October. We have reopened our online petition (see “Petition” in the menu), so please sign it if you haven’t already done so and pass it on to your friends, family, and anyone else you know. Also, if you haven’t already done so, then please take the time to write to your MP, alert them to the cause and ask for their support. Political pressure is needed to turn this around. (See the “Letter to MP” link on the menu for more information).

Here is the link to Liverpool’s online petition that you can sign to help our cause:

Save Liverpool Coastguard Petition – this petition has been reopened to continue the fight against closure.

 

Press Release – September 30 2011

PCS Union release plans to save Liverpool Coastguard station

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union have commissioned new architectural plans that could save the Liverpool Coastguard station.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency set out proposals in December for a nationally networked coordination service. This proposal included the location of a Maritime Operations Centre in the Southampton/Portsmouth area. On July 14 the Secretary of State Philip Hammond announced a further period of consultation about revisions to the proposal; specifically the decision to retain the station at Holyhead rather than Liverpool, the choice to keep the Milford Haven station rather than Swansea, the decision to retain stations at Shetland and Stornoway and the decision to operate a single Maritime Operations Centre (MOC), rather than two.

The proposed MOC structure is a single Centre based in the Southampton area supported by nine 24 hour sub-centres, one of which is nominated as a standby Maritime Operations Centre. London Coastguard, as before, remains in the network.

PCS members have put together a proposal to locate the national MOC station at Liverpool, at a cost of just £900,000 rather than on the South coast which, as a conversion, would cost considerably more.

Architectural plans have today been presented to MPs in the area. Local architect Gavyn Lloyd of Jakesville Studio visited the station at Crosby and quickly realised that the site was vastly under-utilised. It has been proposed that with an extension, the existing building could easily be converted to the MOC at a fraction of the cost of a new build or conversion from another non-maritime building, as the technology and infrastructure is already in place.

PCS member at Liverpool are hopeful that this will help to tip the balance in their favour as the consultation period to decide the fate of the station at Crosby comes to an end on October 6.

PCS member Su Claassen said, “The present system for coastguard operations does not in our opinion need to change, however, due to political and European pressures the UK has to establish one Maritime Operations Centre.  Our proposal to locate it at Liverpool where there is a suitable building for conversion is a realistic and frugal option for Government to consider, instead of leaving the building underutilised.”

The site at Crosby is the second largest Freehold property (Gross Internal Area, 860m2) owned by the MCA in the UK. PCS members have asserted that as it cannot be used for any function other than maritime operations, removing HM Coastguard function from this building would the union believes, be a waste of tax-payers money as it would be under-utilised.

 If you are part of the campaign team fighting to save the MRCC at Liverpool please get in touch with us atinfo@coastguardsos.com

 

 

Collective Grievance Liverpool Coastguard closures 21.12.11

 

We*, the undersigned, believe that we have been unfairly disadvantaged and that the consultation regarding retention of coastguard operations at Liverpool has been unfairly represented with the aim to close the station regardless of objection. Our basis for this grievance is:

 

The MCA provided a document to MP Maria Eagle on 16th December 2010 about the future of the coastguard. Liverpool operations room was not an option to remain open[1]. On December 17th 2010, the first consultation document was released to the public, which included Liverpool versus Belfast.  The document had errors and omissions regarding the facilities at the Liverpool site. The description of each site was written so that Liverpool was undersold to the public who would have to read the document. Page 23 of the document stated the requirements for a sub-centre; Liverpool met those requirements.

 

The risk assessment was only published on February 14th 2011, after a request from the TSC. In section 8, the descriptions of the sites under-represented the site at Liverpool. Three times the PCS officials at Liverpool approached the MCA management to have the omissions and errors rectified.  By the end of the consultation period, they had not been corrected.

 

On July 14th 2011, the second consultation was published. This recommended the retention of one of the sites of each pair, based on the rationale of area local knowledge and sustained interoperability of the sites. It also argued the retention of Holyhead over Liverpool based on the “perceived risk presented by the ability to deal with Welsh language and place names. The retention of a sub-centre at Holyhead will mitigate the transition risk presented by familiarity with the Welsh language”. The question was asked if the retention of Holyhead over Liverpool addressed the concerns about the Welsh place names and language. It is our belief that the second consultation favoured the retention of Holyhead over Liverpool based on the limited information available in the document for the public to respond. The second consultation did not refer to the criteria for a sub-centre.

 

A FOIA request 876 was submitted to the MCA in order to highlight that the staff at Liverpool and Holyhead do not pair. (This means that the Watch Manager at one site dials into the other site and uses his or her staff to utilise the aerials and phone lines of the other site, whilst taking full SAR capability and full SMC duties without the assistance of the others’ staff.) In their reply, the MCA failed to show that Holyhead and Liverpool pair in the same manner as other stations such as, for example, Swansea and Milford. Therefore, we believe the assumption of pairing should not be applicable in this case.

 

On 12th September, during the second consultation period, the Shipping Minister Mike Penning stated that there would be two stations in Wales at the end of the consultation regardless[2].  This meant to us that our station was not being properly considered.  We feel that the decision for the closure of Liverpool coastguard had already been made before the end of the public consultation.

 

On November 22nd, the Shipping Minister, Mike Penning, declared that Liverpool operations room was to be closed. However, the building was to be kept open for other MCA functions. The rationale for closing Liverpool was based on the requirement to retain Holyhead due to the concerns for Welsh place names and pronunciation of Welsh names rather than any operational requirement.  Albert Owen MP asked Mike Penning about future staffing for Holyhead, to which Mike Penning replied that he did not envisage any redundancies at Holyhead[3]. The CEO, Alan Massey, stated to staff at Liverpool that all operations room staff in the MCA will have to apply for positions in the new Coastguard structure.

 

1          We believe that the MCA has not undertaken a full equality impact assessment on the closure of Liverpool Coastguard and its effects on the ability to understand and pronounce place names within the Liverpool District which covers England, Wales, Scotland, and the Isle of Man, and the effects of closing this station on the ability to rescue persons in distress in this area.

 

2          We believe that the MCA has not undertaken an assessment of the ability of the staff at Liverpool coastguard to understand Welsh place names. The Liverpool district already includes part of the Welsh coastline.

 

3          We believe that the MCA has not undertaken an assessment of the staff at Liverpool coastguard to be able to pronounce Welsh place names.

 

4          We believe that the MCA has not undertaken an assessment of the staff at Holyhead coastguard and other UK Coastguard stations to be able to understand and pronounce Welsh place names.

 

5          We believe that the MCA has added new terms and conditions (by adding Welsh pronunciation) to the contract of employment without due consultation to the PCS Union which was signed by staff at Liverpool Coastguard on their completion of probation.  We work with Welsh lifeboats, coastguard teams, members of the public and other Welsh authorities and stakeholders.  We have not been made aware that we will be required to understand Welsh place names and pronounce Welsh names. It is our understanding that English is the language used within the MCA.

 

6          We believe that the MCA do not actively recruit employees to Welsh coastguard stations with the criteria that they can understand and pronounce Welsh place names. In fact, the last four recruits to Holyhead were interviewed by Liverpool staff members and the subject of pronunciation and Welsh language familiarity was not discussed.

 

7          We believe that we will be unfairly discriminated against during the recruitment and selection of future employees at sub-centres as it is assumed we do not have the same skills as staff at Holyhead.

 

8          We believe that the MCA has failed us by not providing structured local knowledge patrols to all staff at Liverpool to the whole area covered by Holyhead over the past 6 years.

 

9          We believe that the MCA has failed us by not offering training to us to ensure that we are able to recognise and pronounce Welsh place names.

 

10        We believe the MCA has assumed that Holyhead-Liverpool has been pairing as per the description above and that this information has misled ministers and MPs into concluding the decision to close Liverpool was fair and safe.

 

11        We believe that the Equality Act 2010 has been breached and that we have been unfairly discriminated against based on our perceived nationality.

 

12        We feel that the decision to close Liverpool coastguard will have a negative impact on care-givers and female staff who are currently under-represented within the operations room team.  We believe reasonable adjustments have not been made for staff that care for disabled persons which will put them at a disadvantage based on new role profiles.

 

13        We believe that the consultation to close Liverpool was not fair and that judgements had been made before the end of the public consultation in contradiction to the code of conduct set out by Lord Hutton.

 

What we expect to resolve the grievance

 

We expect the closure of Liverpool Coastguard to be suspended and a reassessment of the evaluation of the process including:

 

1             A full Equality Impact assessment on the closure of Liverpool Coastguard and the resulting risks associated.

 

2             A full risk assessment to be conducted as to the effects of closing Liverpool station and its effects on response, including locating and selection. Full disclosure of the documents relating to the assessment.  If the risk identifies that there will be an increase in response time or a delay in assisting a person in distress then the Minister should be notified that the new system may not be safer than it currently is.

 

3             An investigation into the consultation process and why it was prejudged.  We expect the disclosure of all documents which were used to determine why Liverpool should close including any minutes of meetings.

 

4             An investigation into why the Minister believes that Liverpool and Holyhead are pairing (as per description page 1) and that one of the stations can close whilst maintaining the current level of local knowledge. The investigation should include a detailed risk assessment which identifies if it is safe to close either station of the pair considering we are behind other “pairs” by six years.

 

5             We expect equal opportunities for staff at all grades, with the aim that they can apply for all posts, not just reshuffling without fair and open competition as is currently happening to grades above HEO. We would like an explanation from HR as to why new posts have not been advertised and persons have moved without competition.

 

6             We expect reasonable adjustments and opportunities for persons who are care givers and others who want to stay in the wider MCA. Including training opportunities that are reasonable for care givers

 

7             We expect an investigation into why the accurate information about Liverpool was not included on the 17thDecember 2010 consultation document and why it was never corrected once the MCA was notified. We would like all the documents disclosed from this investigation.

 

8             We expect a structured training programme and events for all MCA operations room staff, including local knowledge patrols to ensure fair and open competition which stays within PCS Union guidelines for action short of a strike.

 

9             Liverpool Coastguard station has 100% Union membership.  We would like the disclosure of any information about Union activities at Liverpool Coastguard which were disclosed to the Executive Board or panel who decided on the outcome of closures.



  • [1] Citation: HC Deb, 28 February 2011, c186W, [2] Citation: HC Deb, 12 September 2011, c867)

 

 

  • [3] Citation: HC Deb, 22 November 2011, c175)

*Operational staff names have been omitted from this webpage version for editorial purposes

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