Union concerns as coastguard stations are axed in cutbacks

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HUMBER Coastguard Station will be tasked with keeping people safe on our shores after Yarmouth station was earmarked for closure under Government cuts.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond MP told the House of Commons last week that eight stations will be closed between 2012 and 2014 instead of the originally intended ten, each staying open 24 hours a day.

Under the new scheme, Humber coastguard will be the only station between Aberdeen and Dover, covering almost 600 miles of coastline including Mablethorpe and Sutton on Sea. The Government hopes to save £7.4 million per year under the scheme, with the Solent station on the south coast becoming the main hub for the force.

Paul Chapman, Public and Commercial Services Union Rep for Humber Coastguard, told the Leader of his concerns over the new plans. He said: “Although it appears to be good news for us at the Humber coastguard, the announcement only tells us where we are going without telling us how we will get there.

“We’ll be covering from Aberdeen to Dover, so much local knowledge will be lost.

“We don’t know how the scheme is going to work, they’ve thrown us a bone but there’s a distinct lack of direction and we don’t feel it’s a workable plan. We don’t know how we can be made more efficient by closing stations and losing so many coastguards.”

There will now be a further 12-week consultation where members of the public can have their say on the proposals.

Philip Hammond MP told the House of Commons: “We have been clear that modernisation is required to deliver a resilient coastguard service, fit for the 21st century. But we have always been open to debate about how that should be achieved.”

It is thought that the workforce of 29 at the Humber station will now have to re-apply for a total of 23 jobs. To have your say visit www.dft.gov.uk/mca/

l Do you think the cuts will make the coastguard more efficient? Send your views to sam.kinnaird@jpress.co.uk.