MPs worry over loss of experienced coastguards

RESCUERS Coastguard teams in action. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (121410-7)
RESCUERS Coastguard teams in action. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (121410-7)
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PLANS to build a new state-of-the-art base for the Solent coastguard have been attacked by a committee of MPs.

The Transport Select Committee says coastguard workers have been left confused and disillusioned by plans which would see the current base in Lee-on-the-Solent replaced with one at Kite’s Croft in Titchfield.

A report issued by the committee yesterday said they were concerned it would be difficult to find experienced

coastguards willing to transfer to the new Maritime Operations Centre (MOC).

The committee also criticised a lack of information about what coastguards at the MOC would actually do from day to day.

Councillor Peter Edgar, from Hampshire County Council and Gosport Borough Council, is the chairman of the Solent Sea Rescue Organisation.

He said: ‘We have been saying this from day one since the proposals and the select committee report confirms every concern we have expressed so far.

‘I think it wouldn’t hurt to have another look at the situation because right across the board there are major concerns.’

As reported in The News, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced plans to modernise its service in 2010.

The new MOC would be based at the site of an abandoned fire control centre.

When asked to comment by The News, the Department for Transport issued a statement from shipping minister Stephen Hammond.

He said: ‘Safety remains our top priority.

‘Our reforms to modernise the coastguard will deliver a more resilient, and effective rescue system, with faster response times, benefitting all parts of the UK.

‘The issues raised in the report have been addresses throughout the two consultations and in our evidence to the select committee.

‘We have some concerns the committee has given too much weight to anecdotal evidence and too little to the evidential testimony of the MCA and the Department for Transport.’