Labour MP Bill Esterson joins Mayor and Mayoress of Sefton at Li

Bill Esterson

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson joined Mayor of Sefton Cllr Paul Cummins at Liverpool Coastguard Station's open day on Sunday.

Bill had the chance to join hundreds of members of the public throughout the day on a tour of the operations room too see first hand the lifesaving work the dedicated team at the Crosby-based station do.

He also had the chance to see a search and rescue demonstration in the waters off the coast, as well as speak to representatives from other emergency services at the event.

Crosby's coastguard station is one of eight stations across the UK, which will be gradually closed between 2012 and 2014/15.

Visitors were encouraged to sign the petition calling on the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government to reverse its decision to close the station down.

Bill said he spoke to lots of visitors, all of whom outraged at the planned closure.

Bill said: "The open day was clearly a fantastic event. There were lots of visitors and lots for them to see.

"It was also a treat for members of the public to get a chance to see the hi-tech control room in which our dedicated coastguard teams work.

"But what was evident was the strength of feeling of members of the public about this planned closure. More than 10,000 people have already signed the petition and online there's even more."

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson with Mayor of Sefton Cllr Paul Cummins, Mayoress Carol Cummins and Liverpool Coastguard Station rescue centre manager Colin Brown.While Bill and Cllr Cummins were touring the control room, the coastguards were in the process of making four rescues at the same time.

Bill said: "Our coastguards save hundreds of lives each and every year. They cover hundreds of miles of coastline. The government has made a dangerous mistake in thinking they can close down our coastguard station without jeopardising lives.

"While I was there they were making four rescues - all at the same time. With the local expertise our team here in Crosby has, you cannot expect simply shut our station down and expect the same level of service from the team in Holyhead. My fear, and it is the same fear the coastguard themselves have, is that hundreds of extra square miles of unfamiliar waters which the remaining coastguard stations will have to cover will result in delays and ultimately lead to unnecessary deaths at sea.

"Coastguards told me about a number of cases in which local knowledge was crucial. I was told about one instance when a person called for help saying they were near to the Liver Building. But after describing what they could see, the coastguards in Crosby ascertained they were actually in the Ribble. Another occasion there was a call from people trapped on the sands near Blackpool who were tracked down because the coastguards knew where they had parked their car.

"That type of local knowledge really is invaluable and it saves lives.

"I've spoken to MPs up and down the country, even in areas where coastguard stations have been reprieved, and they tell me that the staff at those stations are not at all happy about having to cover other areas. They all fear that this policy will cost lives. Which is the ultimate price to pay for reckless cost cutting.

"But I thank the staff for showing us a snapshot of their work and I will continue to work with them to fight this government's ludicrous and dangerous plans to close a vital part of our emergency services here in the North West."

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