On December 16th 2010, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) published a consultation document announcing the Modernisation of the Coastguard for the 21st Century. UK Coastguard HQ Centres are responsible for the co-ordination of Search and Rescue along the UK coastline, as well as providing shipping information and a number of other essential services. Typical emergencies include:
Sailboarders too exhausted to reach the shore
Walkers and animals who slip from cliff paths
Boats losing rudder control
Crews stranded aboard container ships, battered by freak waves
Incidents involving oil rigs, such as fire
Suicide victims who have jumped from cliffs or bridges
Missing adults and children around cliffs or beach areas
Broken-down merchant vessels in British waters
Evacuating injured persons at sea
Locating missing persons and vessels at sea
Fires on board merchant vessels
Collisions at sea
Announcing the cuts, Shipping Minister, Mike Penning said "Our seas are becoming busier, with larger ships and increasing numbers of offshore renewable energy platforms making key areas of our seas more congested. There are also increasing numbers of people using our beaches, coastlines and seas for leisure activities.”
So, Mike, you're telling us that with busier seas, larger ships, more offshore platforms and shed loads of us holidaying at home because we're counting the pennies, your government - the one that pledged NOT to cut Frontline Services - is going to rid our shores of ten Coastguard HQ Centres and leave only three operating 24/7?
Public safety is not a toe dipping exercise, Mike. And just because the vast majority of us only visit the seaside for a few days a year does not mean that you can sweep cuts like these under the carpet. We are expecting a total recall on the whole sorry debate before Summer recess, Mike.
To make sure the Government keeps its promise to look again at the proposals, please sign one or both of the following petitions, and if you know of any more local stations that need our support, let us know. We won't be keeping quiet about this one.