Coastguard centre to shut in bid to modernise service

Sir Alan Massey
Sir Alan Massey

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A COASTGUARD centre in Lee-on-the-Solent will close under plans to modernise the rescue service.

Vice-Admiral Sir Alan Massey, who’s head of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), yesterday confirmed his intention to shut the station in Marine Parade East.

Instead, a new state-of-the-art Maritime Operations Centre will be built – one of just three in the UK that will operate 24 hours a day.

The MCA already has planning permission to build a new base at the former HMS Daedalus in Lee-on-the-Solent.

But Vice-Adml Massey said they were also looking at Hampshire fire service’s abandoned building in Kite’s Croft, Titchfield.

Other unnamed sites in Portsmouth or Southampton are also being considered.

If the proposals are approved by the Department for Transport, the Lee-on-the-Solent station would close some time between April and March next year.

It currently has 30 members of staff, who will each have to apply for one of the 96 roles the new centre will create.

Vice-Adml Massey said: ‘What we’re seeking to do is modernise the coastguard search and rescue co-ordination services.

‘At the moment we have 18 stations.

‘We’re seeking to bring them together so we can better distribute their workload.

‘That means we’ll close stations, we’ll lose people, but for that we’ll have a much more efficient and modern system.

‘The expectation is that Lee-on-the-Solent will close once the southern Maritime Operations Centre is running.’

Vice-Adml Massey has insisted the extra workload at the centre – which will handle calls from around the country – will not compromise safety in the Solent area.

He added: ‘It will be more capable, without a shadow of a doubt.’

The coastguard’s search and rescue helicopter is expected to remain at the former HMS Daedalus site.

A public meeting will be held on Tuesday for residents to have their say on the proposals.

The meeting will take place at Thorngate Hall in Bury Road at 7.30pm. The full consultation document is online at mcga.gov.uk.