Cuts to Hampshire’s coastguard services are ‘seriously flawed’

CUTS The Coastguard helicopter
CUTS The Coastguard helicopter
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GOVERNMENT plans to cut back on coastguard centres raise serious safety concerns and should be withdrawn, a report by MPs said.

Under current proposals the number of coastguard centres open 24 hours a day will be reduced from 18 to three – one of which will be in the Portsmouth or Southampton area.

The House of Commons Transport Committee said evidence it had received during its inquiry raised ‘serious concerns that safety will be jeopardised if these proposals proceed’.

The committee also said the decision to withdraw funding for emergency towing vessels – large tugs that intercept disabled ships to prevent pollution – was ‘unwise and short-sighted’ and was ‘inviting disaster’.

Committee chairman Louise Ellman said there was little support for the plans, adding: ‘We accept there is a need for some modernisation, but the government’s proposals for the future of the coastguard service are seriously flawed.’

She also expressed her disappointment that shipping minister Mike Penning had ‘instructed regular coastguards not to give evidence to the committee’.

Mr Penning said the plans are ‘not set in stone’.