Labour MP Bill Esterson slams Tory-Lib Dem government's decision

Bill Esterson and Veronica Bennett

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said he is bitterly disappointed that the government is pushing ahead with "seriously flawed" plans which could see the closure of Crosby's Liverpool Coastguard Station.

Bill immediately launched a campaign to save the Crosby station when the Tory-Lib Dem government announced plans to slash the number of the country's coastguard stations from 19 to eight.

The station was originally left off the consultation document, but quickly added after Labour MPs raised concerns about the closure.

It was then pitched against Belfast's Coastguard Station for survival.

Speaking in the House of Commons after the announcement, Bill said: "The news that Crosby coastguard is to close is a bitter blow to staff and to the public in my constituency and around the coast. It is a cut too far which risks public safety.

"Crosby has many experienced and outstanding staff who have relationships with search and rescue staff, with police officers and fire fighters.

"Staff want to make the most of new technology but using the existing network rather than in a large, remotely located operations in Southampton and Aberdeen. By keeping 24/7 stations the minister has accepted that new technology will be most effective if combined with existing local knowledge and relationships.

"So why has he not done this at Crosby or at the other seven stations he wants to close? Is the truth behind the closures because of pressure from the Treasury?"

Bill blasted the plans calling them "dangerous".

Bill said: "This is obviously very bad news for Crosby, Liverpool and the whole of the North West.

"From day one, the Labour Party and myself have highlighted the inherent dangers of these seriously flawed plans. We have shouted from the rooftops that the closures will mean people will end up losing their lives in the waters around this region.

"With the closure of our coastguard station, we are losing the expertise of the dedicated staff who man the station and keep our waters safe."

Bill called a number of debates in Westminster Hall to discuss the plans and highlight the inherent dangers. He also attended public meetings on the issue.

Bill said: "Throughout all of the debates, both in Westminster Hall and out in the communities everyone was saying the same thing, 'These plans are dangerous.' The only ones who can't see that - or refuse to see it - is the government.

"They are mistakenly thinking that the fantastic service which our coastguards provide locally can be provided locally. It cannot. While new technology is important and should be used it should not be at the expense of local knowledge and expertise. The Tories and Lib Dems have closed Crosby because they are in a rush. This is yet another cut that's too far and too fast this time at the expense of public safety.

"This government is intent on destroying our lifesaving emergency services. They have slashed funding to the police, fire and these plans make the waters around our region very dangerous indeed.

"I will continue to fight the government on this. They are making a very serious mistake - a mistake which could prove fatal.

"This campaign is not over."


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