Council leader hits out at coastguard closure plans

The leader of Argyll and Bute Council has condemned the UK Government’s decision to close the coastguard station at Greenock.

Councillor Dick Walsh’s criticism followed the news that both the Clyde and Forth coastguard bases would close under revised plans announced by shipping minister Mike Hemming to shut eight centres across the UK, with the loss of 159 jobs.

The co-ordination centres at Forth, Clyde, Great Yarmouth, Liverpool, Thames, Swansea, Brixham and Portland will close by March 2015, while centres at Falmouth, Milford Haven, Holyhead, Belfast, Stornoway, Shetland,

Aberdeen and Humber are to be be retained.

Rescues on the west coast of Scotland will be handled from Bangor in Northern Ireland.

“I am appalled by the decision to close what is the busiest coastguard station in Scotland,” Cllr Walsh said The lives of people using the waters which Argyll and Bute and Scotland’s wider west coast have to offer – both in key industries such as fishing and in the marine leisure sector - will be at greater risk as a result.

“I am now writing to the relevant Minister to request that this decision be reviewed and reversed. The UK Government cannot be allowed to sacrifice the vital local experience and knowledge which so often proves a key factor in successful rescues at sea simply in order to save money.

“Every week, the Clyde coastguard station is responsible for saving people who are in distress and danger at sea. My fear is that, in the future, some of those lives might be lost if our local station is no longer operational.”