Future of North Devon coastguard services unclear

Joseph Bulmer

Government annouces proposals to reduce UK coastguard stations from 18 to eight.

THE future of coastguard coverage in North Devon is unclear after the Government announced today (Thursday) proposals to reduce the UK’s 18 coastguard stations down to eight.

Swansea, which co-ordinates maritime rescue efforts in North Devon, is to be open during daylight hours only under the plans, as is Falmouth.

Only three stations in the UK would be kept open around the clock. There is as yet no indication how or if the smaller part time stations such as Ilfracombe and Westward Ho! would be affected.

A 14 week public consultation proposals has also been launched.

Making the announcement today, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Mike Penning MP said the Coastguard had a long and distinguished history but as with all public services it “cannot stand still.”

“The current organisation of the Coastguard - which dates back some forty years - is not well placed to respond to these challenges,” he said.

“The lack of national coordination between the centres can result in limited resilience and an uneven distribution of the workload, especially during busy periods.

“The latest technologies offer opportunities to address these issues and to modernise the Coastguard enabling it to deliver a more integrated and improved level of service, at lower cost, with better-rewarded staff taking on increased responsibilities and with enhanced career opportunities.”

The consultation documents can be viewed and responses made via the MCA website at www.mcga.gov.uk. Paper copies are available by writing to HM Coastguard Modernisation Consultation, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Spring Place, 105 Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1EG. Or telephone 02380 839 587.