COMMONS

Louise Ellman welcomes Government policy shift on the Coastguard

14 July 2011

The Chair of the Transport Committee welcomes the Government's policy shift on Coastguard Services

Responding to today's announcement by ministers on the future of the Coastguard Service, Transport Committee Chair Louise Ellman MP says:

"Last month we called on the Government to withdraw its proposals for the future of the Coastguard Service and to issue revised plans; it is positive that Ministers have done so.

In particular, it's reassuring that Ministers have accepted our key recommendation to abandon any notion of 'daylight hour' coastguard stations. I am pleased these revised plans ensure all remaining stations will operate on a 24 hour basis – able to provide swift and expert assistance to people on local coastlines and in local waters, whatever the time of day or night.

Ministers have also accepted our concerns about the potential loss of local knowledge amongst coastguard officers that would have occurred under the initial proposals. Nevertheless, it will be important for the Government to demonstrate that the new plans properly address our concerns to sustain operational effectiveness at key points when swift information transfer is required in order to save lives.

It is regrettable that some coastguard stations will still close under these revised proposals. We called on the Government to hold a further short period of consultation if it issued new plans. For something as important as the re-organisation of the Coastguard—where lives are potentially at risk—it is imperative that coastguards and others have the opportunity to respond. I am pleased that the Minister has confirmed there will be a further twelve-week period of consultation. I hope the Government will continue listening."

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