The Future of the Coastguard Service debated in Westminster Hal

Bill Esterson

 

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson is carrying on the fight to secure a future for Crosby's Coastguard Station - despite indications that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government want it shut down.

Bill secured a Back Bench debate today, Thursday 24th March in Westminster Hall.

Bill said: “H.M. Coastguard is not a part time Emergency Service and nor should it ever be considered as such. Incidents do not just happen during daylight hours. At least 14 stations should be left open on a 24/7 basis. As the current Chief Executive of the MCA stated at the Transport Select Committee hearing on the 08th February 2011, the current stations are where they are presently because they are in the most strategic locations around the coast of the U.K.

Crosby Coastguard staff have decades of local knowledge. They work closely with the search and rescue teams who they know personally. The loss of the local knowledge and relationships cannot easily be replaced if at all in a national centre in Southampton or in Aberdeen.

“Although the contention of the government is that safety will not be diminished by these changes there seems to be no evidence for that assertion. I believe that station closures will lead to the loss of the detailed local knowledge of the coast that is integral to successful emergency operations. How can stations 500 miles away know the details of local coastlines?”

“Local knowledge is key to MCA work and this would be lost with centralisation, not to mention the disproportionate economic impact of job losses on the economies of coastal communities. Where will Crosby staff find new jobs? They have told me they won’t go to Aberdeen or Southampton and who can blame them for that. But no alternative jobs will be provided. 25% of domestic tourism alone consists of holidays in coastal communities and any reduction in emergency cover for holiday makers would also have a knock on effect on the fragile economics of coastal communities like Sefton.

“MPs from 9 political parties are united in opposition to this plan from government. We were horrified to hear that a senior manager in the coastguard service had called us whingeing MPs. Like my colleagues, I am happy to whinge for as long as it takes to protect safety, to look after the public, jobs and the tourist industry in Sefton.”

Bill finally added: “Like most of my colleagues in the room the big disappointment was that this moved from the main Chamber into Westminster Hall. That is why I have asked for a statement in the House form the Secretary of State and that he answers questions from MPs across the political divide”.