WITH just three weeks to go until the consultation on the closure Galloway’s coastguard station ends, a postal ballot of affected staff begins today (Friday).
Workers in the coastguard service are being balloted on the management plans to axe eight stations and merge others after senior figures at the Marine and Coastguard Agency have claimed that their employees support the scheme.
The Public and Commercial Services Union aims to prove them wrong and a massive vote of no confidence in the plans is expected.
Campaigners against the closures nationswide have received the support of big names such as TV Star and boater Griff Rhys Jones and adventurer Ben Fogle.
Griff said: “I am shocked that these cuts seem to be planned at all. I know everybody is talking about front line services, but this is certainly the front line if anything is. This is the middle of a recurring and never-ending battle and human lives are at risk.
As anybody who goes to sea around Britain knows, the coastguard and rescue services are without parallel. They serve a vital function.
I believe that we should be cutting unnecessary expense, but is the government really prepared to have people lives on its conscience. “
Amongst those earmarked for closure is Liverpool, which covers the Solway and part of the Irish Sea. The plan is to co-ordinate calls from a Belfast base instead.
Liverpool Coastguard station covers 200 miles of Galloway coastline and protests against the plans in other parts of the country have been taking place all month, including a floating campaign up the river Thames.
In the past three weeks alone, Liverpool Coastguard have dealt with missing kite surfers, runawau horses on a beach and the discovery of a WWII bomb.
Go to www.saveliverpoolcoastguard.org and click on ‘petitions’ to sign your name and help the campaign.