Call for more support to stop coastguard closure at Great Yarmouth, which covers Norfolk and Suffolk coast
¬©Archant Photographic 2008
Campaigners fighting government plans that would see the coastguard centre closed in Great Yarmouth have called for more support from Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey.
A report from the Transport Select Committee (TSC) has criticised Whitehall’s reform of the coastguard service, which includes plans to close several centres, including the one at Yarmouth’s Havenbridge House and Walton on the Naze.
And the National Coastguard SOS Campaign has criticised Dr Coffey, and Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, saying they should do more to support the cause.
Dennis O’Connor, co-ordinator of the National Coastguard SOS Campaign, said: “We have made repeated attempts to engage with Therese Coffey and Bernard Jenkin but they have remained steadfast in their support of the Government’s closure programme despite legitimate concerns being raised over the inoperability of the plan.”
Dr Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, said: “I was pleased that there were changes made to the original plan and that nine 24/7 centres will now operate including Humber. More resources will be put into our local coastguard offices that actually carry out the rescues.
“The chief coastguard who came forward with the revised proposals is confident, as am I, that safety will always be the top priority.”
Mr Jenkin said: ““There is little doubt that modern technology means that HM Coastguard must change the way it does things, and the taxpayer will get better value and seafarers will get better service if there are fewer centres of operation employing all the technical means of communication and support which are available. However, I fully support the conclusions of the TSC.
“As a yachtsman myself, I know from experience that there is no substitute for local knowledge and local experience.
“The Government needs to listen more to the people who work in for HM Coastguard.”
In its report, the TSC urged the Government to stop any further coastguard station closures – it said the reforms had left staff disillusioned.
A total of eight of the UK’s 17 coastguard stations are due to close.
The coastguard stations closing in the reorganisation are: Brixham, Clyde, Forth, Yarmouth, Liverpool, Portland, Swansea and Thames.
Under the plans the area covered by Yarmouth, which is due to close in May, would transfer to Humber, which will monitor coast from Gayton Le Marsh in Lincolnshire to Southwold in north Suffolk.
All Maritime and Coastguard Agency staff at the Yarmouth centre - around 25 - have been offered redeployment within the service.
Dover would cover Walton’s area.