May 19 2013 Latest news:
Friday, November 2, 2012
Great Yarmouth’s coastguard control centre will close in May 2013, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has announced.
From May 1 the Humber and Thames Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCCs) will take over from Yarmouth, monitoring the coast from Gayton Le Marsh in Lincolnshire to Southwold in Suffolk.
All staff at the Yarmouth centre - around 25 - have been offered redeployment within the service.
But with the new national super centre to be based more than 200 miles away in Hampshire, it is thought many will not take up the offer.
The approximate closure date has been known since the beginning of this year, as the service’s lease at Havenbridge House runs out in June 2013 - before which the premises must be cleared out.
The proposed changes are part of a vision to modernise the coastguard service, having fewer stations but with new technology in each.
Fears have been voiced that the new coastguard system will not have been tested by the time the Yarmouth centre is closed, as the proposed National Network will not be fully operational.
And campaigners have raised concerns over the loss of local knowledge from control centres, which they say could affect Broads coverage.
But government bosses are confident coverage will remain robust - with no frontline resources affected, and the changes purely to the way calls are handled.
And they have stressed calls can safely be handled at stations on the Humberside and Essex coast when the Yarmouth control room shuts.
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.
Remaining open are Aberdeen, Belfast, Falmouth, Holyhead, Humber, London, Milford Haven, Shetland, Stornaway.
As reported Havenbridge House’s landlords - Citygate Developments - had offered to extend the lease and wanted the coastguard to stay.
But the building’s main tenant is the government’s tax department - HMRC - so the coastguards’ hands were tied to close before June 2013, before this week’s MCA announcement was made.
Coastguard stations in Clyde and Forth, in Scotland have already closed, and Yarmouth is the only other set to close before the new National Network is fully operational.