Cuts ‘will put lives at risk’

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Proposals to close eight Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination centres, including Liverpool, could result in lives being lost in Morecambe Bay, says a concerned resident.

Val Schofield, from Morecambe, said: “This has major implications for the inhabitants of Morecambe.

“The Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres are critically understaffed.

“The unease felt by coastguard officers at the current proposals regarding the future of HM Coastguard and the closure of eight MRCCs has resulted in low morale and, therefore, significant numbers of staff leaving the profession.

“As I understand it, as staff leave they are not being replaced, which has greatly increased the pressure on the staff that remain.

“Our local MRCC at Liverpool is earmarked for closure as part of the proposed modernisation.

“The current proposal will result in the loss of crucial local knowledge.

“This will have a detrimental effect on the ability to co-ordinate rescues as efficiently and will, I fear, place lives at risk.”

In December 2010 the UK Government announced modernisation consultation proposals for HM Coastguard.

Two centres would operate 24hrs a day supported by only five sub centres that would only be operational throughout “daylight hours only”.

The proposals were rejected by every Coastguard station, campaigners and by the Transport Select Committee.

On July 14, 2011, the then Secretary of State for Transport Rt.Hon Philip Hammond MP announced new consultation proposals which indicated that eleven named Coastguard stations would be retained on a 24/7 basis but that eight remaining named stations would close, including Liverpool.

UK Coastguard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCC’s) are responsible for the co-ordination of Search and Rescue (SAR) along the UK coastline, as well as providing shipping information and essential services along the UK coastline.