A coastguard campaigner has labelled plans to close down a coastguard station “flawed” after staffing levels were revealed to be dangerously low.
Chris Jeffries, of the Coastguard SOS campaign group, is now calling on Fylde coast MPs to work with the group and help their efforts to keep the Liverpool Coastguard station open.
The centre, which conducts all of the Fylde coast’s sea rescue operations, was staffed below safe “risk assessed” levels for more than one third of the time during 2013, figures show.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), has called for a halt to the closures and called for Fylde coast MPs to act on the recommendations of the transport select committee and ensure proper risk assessments are carried out.
Liverpool Coastguard Station is to close in January 2015, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has confirmed. It is set to be replaced by a facility at Holyhead, North Wales. Twenty jobs are believed to be at risk as a result.
Mr Jeffries said: “Again, more evidence reveals the closures plan for Liverpool Coastguard and others is flawed.
“The Maritime and Coastguard Agency seem unable to grasp the severity of the situation and have indicated they are going to carry on regardless of closures, as staff at Brixham Coastguard (in Devon) have just been sent redundancy notices.
“The figures speak for themselves and demonstrate the current deepening staffing crisis at all Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres. Any closure now is likely to cause failure and tragedy.
“It is time the closures were stopped.
“I call on all Fylde coast MPs to support Liverpool Coastguard and work with the Coastguard SOS campaign group.”
As well as co-ordinating rescue operations at sea, coastguard staff assisted other emergency services and the Environment Agency in cities and towns. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Coastguard stations provide a vital lifeline in our coastal communities.”
Arrangements in place where staff are reduced
A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: “Currently, where a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) is experiencing reduced staffing levels, established ‘pairing’ arrangements are used.
This means each MRCC can be connected to at least one other MRCC that will provide mutual support.
“Under the future structure, the introduction of the ‘National Network’ as part of the modernisation of HM Coastguard will enable the National Maritime Operations Centre and all other centres to coordinate any incident around the UK coast.”