Campaign to save Coastguard service

A PETITION to save a vital Coastguard service along Scarborough’s coast has been launched.

The Government announced controversial plans last year to slash the hours of the Humber Coastguard Station which co-ordinates rescues in the Scarborough area.

Under the proposals, the station, based in Bridlington, would no longer provide a 24-hour service and would only be operational between 9am to 7pm, with rescues overseen by centres in Aberdeen, Dover or Southampton.

Two-thirds of coastguards would also be axed in the plans.

Copies of the petition are available to sign in the Evening News reception.

The Government have said the move will improve service levels while cutting costs, and Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill said the cuts were necessary to help the country’s economy recover.

He added: “Unfortunately, we are having to make cuts where we can. There are lots of areas where we are having to make cuts.

“Every time the Government announce savings the critics say we can’t make these cuts but never volunteer alternative areas where we could.”

However, in a statement from the Coastguard, a representative said there were more than 750 incidents outside of daytime hours last year and believed cutting services may put lives in jeopardy.

It added: “Humber Coastguard’s operations room co-ordinates all maritime and coastal search and rescue activity between the south bank of the River Humber and the Scottish Border at Berwick-upon-Tweed.

“It is our belief that downgrading Humber Coastguard to daytime only working hours will increase the risk to the mariner and coastal users and could put lives in danger.”

Following the announcement of the potential cuts the RNLI raised fears that levels of local knowledge among those co-ordinating search and rescue operations could fall as a result of the changes.

In the majority of cases RNLI lifeboats are requested to launch by local Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres.

The spokesperson added: “The RNLI works extremely closely with the Mari-time and Coastguard Agency, which includes HM Coastguard.

“Clearly in the current economic climate very hard decisions have had to be made.

“The reduction in Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres is significant.

“We are looking closely at the way civil maritime search and rescue co-ordination will now operate in the UK.

“We have been reassured by the Mari- time Coastal Agency that the standard of search and rescue co-ordination will not reduce, and that it will be business as usual for our lifeboats.

“One thing is certain, the RNLI charity’s lifeboats will continue to launch wherever and whenever needed.”

The Humber coastguard station will be one of five in the UK to have their hours scaled back.

Ten coastguard stations are to close altogether.

A 14-week public consultation period into the proposals is due to be concluded in March.