Threat to lives following coastguard staff cuts

Lives will be lost if coastguard stations such as Dorset’s Portland continue to lose experienced staff, says a workers union.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have claimed that staff shortages, due to forthcoming closures, is making safe 24 hour cover almost impossible.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We and others have warned time and again that these closures would put lives at risk. The government must act immediately to address this dangerous decline.”

As part of government modernisation plans, half of the UK’s coastguard stations, including Dorset’s Portland station, are due to be closed in the next few years in order to transfer over to a new national network.

But the PCS have claimed low staffing, due to forthcoming changes, is putting lives at risk and even in stations remaining open, disillusioned staff who can not easily be replaced are leaving.

While Liverpool station is expected to lose eleven of its twenty-two watching staff before the summer, Dorset’s Portland station is currently operating with five less watch officers than at full capacity.

Yesterday, Yarmouth Coastguard ceased to provide 24 hour cover for the south coast and East Anglia as they passed on their responsibilities to Humber coastguards in advance of the station’s planned closure.

Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: “It’s a real shame that we’re losing these jobs, though they have been offered relocation.”

“Yarmouth coastguard has been there for a long time but it’s the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that have made the recommendation and when they’re saying this is what we need, it’s very difficult for any of us to say ‘you the coastguard have got this wrong’,” added MP Lewis.

Main image credit: Royal Navy Media Archive, Flickr

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