There are currently only 19* Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCC’s) in the UK. Under plans announced by HMG a total of 50% of those rescue centres will close. Campaigners believe that both public consultations into published plans are flawed and insufficient effort has been applied to fully risk assessing the impact that station closures will have on the MRCC and the coastal community affected by the closure.
We welcome a move to modernise HM Coastguard and to offer better rates of pay to Coastguard Officers who by the admission of HMG are amongst the lowest paid Civil Servants. It is imperative that pay scales reflect the importance of the role that they play in saving lives.
We firmly believe that any modernisation plans should not include cuts which are financially driven. We are aware of a requirement for austerity in the current financial climate but the financial justification for the current proposals has not been made clear enough for people to have any reasonable understanding of how it is achievable. Regardless of this however, wedo not believe the Government should look to reduce public safety with the reduction of Coastguard stations.
It is our opinion that plans to close any of the current MRCC’s are dangerous and will lead to a Coastguard service which will not be “fit for the 21st Century”. Ultimately, it is believed that the plans that were set out in the original consultation together with the revised document for the second consultation, will lead to loss of life if allowed to proceed.
“Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat” - Jean Paul Sartre
From the onset, plans to close Coastguard maritime rescue co-ordination centres were overwhelmingly rejected by Coastguard officers (former and serving), the public, MP’s, devolved assembly & parliament members and local authorities. In addition, the Transport Select Committee (TSC) conducted a full inquiry into the original consultation and considered that the evidence given during the inquiry was serious enough for the Committee to recommend that HMG reconsider closure plans. ( http://www.
Current MRCC’s are located in areas of high maritime activity. The closure of any of these MRCC’s will result in a loss of vital local knowledge which will not be able to available to Coastguard Officers outside of the immediate areas concerned. This local knowledge is gained over years of service and through experience and we do not believe that sufficient concern has been shown by the DfT and MCA to addressing this issue.
The retention of and networking of all current MRCC’s is a sensible and safe way to “modernise” HM Coastguard. This would mean that when an MRCC is busy dealing with several incidents, some of the additional workload including normal daily tasks may be shared by a neighbouring station who may not be as busy at that time. By doing so HM Coastguard will benefit from the additional pool of staff and management which will in turn lead to less disruption.
We do not believe that the proposal to set up a Maritime Rescue Centre (MOC) to deal with rescue co-ordination is safe or correct and that this will lead to a less resillient Coastguard service than we have at present.
As a result of the original consultation, responses were made which included viable proposals which HMG could consider to co-locate Government bodies within existing sites thereby potentially making considerable financial savings for the UK economy. Given that the revised proposals were released within a short space of time after the end of the original consultation, and do not include evidence to confirm that those suggestions have even been considered, we contest that it is wrong of HMG to have revised proposals without full consideration of all available responses / suggestions.
“Any fool can carry on but a wise man knows how to shorten sail in time” - Joseph Conrad
The MCA have said that “the dates and sequence of closures will be driven by operational requirements during the implementation of the programme and, as such, are subject to ongoing review”.
|Coastguard MRCC||Due to close|
* Total includes a manned desk at London Coastguard
Our message to Her Majesty’s Government is clear:
Whilst welcoming the news of steps forward towards safer proposals, Coastguard officers and campaigners nevertheless are gravely concerned that despite assurances that Ministers were “listening” to the concerns of members of the public, Coastguard officers, campaigners, Members of Parliament and devolved Governments, the revised proposals are also unacceptable not least on the basis that vital local knowledge will continue be lost and therefore lives will continue to be put at risk on our coastlines.
HM Coastguard should not be subjected to cuts because the safety of those at sea and in coastal communities remains a much more urgent priority than financially driven targets.
Local knowledge saves lives.