Coastguard snub by PM causing anger

VOLUNTEER coastguards who wrote to David Cameron six weeks ago expressing concerns over the closure of our local guard station are still awaiting a response.

The letter, signed on behalf of over 150 volunteer coastguards - including local teams at Isle of Whithorn and Kirkcudbright - was sent on 22 July and raised serious concerns about the government’s proposals to close both Liverpool and Clyde coastguard stations which serve our region.

The letter from the volunteer teams states that the proposed closures do “not represent a good strategic operational and geographical spread of co-ordination centres.”

Highlighting Dumfries and Galloway’s 200 miles of coastline and the Solway Firth as areas with the potential for increased casualties on the water, the volunteer coastguards are calling for Liverpool station to be saved from the cuts.

MP Russell Brown, who will be meeting parliamentary colleagues in the coming days to increase pressure to maintain Dumfries and Galloway’s current coastguard cover has written to the prime minister himself on the matter.

Mr Brown said: “I am angry that the Prime Minister is ignoring the concerns of volunteer coastguards. It seems plainly obvious to everyone except the government that their plans to close coastguard bases will put lives at risk.

“It is totally inexcusable for the Prime Minister to snub local coastguards and not even give them the decency of a response. These 150 volunteer coastguards are raising the real fears they have about the proposals and they deserve to be listened to. They have made their decision based on how much money they can save, and it is frankly scandalous to put cuts ahead of safety.”

The consultation on the issue is due to close on October 6. You can sign the petition online or at various outlets in Galloway and in Newton Stewart at Costcutter and The Post office, both on Victoria Street.

Meanwhile, workers in the coastguard service are being balloted on management plans to axe the eight stations and merge others.

Senior figures at the Marine and Coastguard Agency have claimed that their employees support the scheme, but the Public and Commercial Services Union say the postal ballot, due to start next Friday, will show a massive vote of no confidence in the plans.

The government-backed agency partially climbed-down from its original proposals in July

The rethink means that some of the stations previously threatened with closure would be saved, and all those remaining will stay open 24 hours.