Government urged to re-think West Country coastguard closures –

Government urged to re-think West Country coastguard closures Published:  02 February, 2011

THE Government is coming under increasing pressure from fishing and political circles in the West Country over its plan to end 24-hour cover at the key Falmouth Coastguard centre.

It is being warned that unless there is a radical re-think there is a serious risk that lives will be put at risk in the future. Under the Government plans, Falmouth would lose its round-the-clock cover and would become a sub-centre, open for just eight hours a day. The number of coastguard stations around the country is being reduced from 18 to eight.

The latest protest has come from Cornwall Council which has written to the Shipping Minister Mike Penning, calling the proposals’ illogical’. Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton has managed to secure a Westminster Hall debate on the controversy later today (Wednesday).

Cornwall and neighbouring Devon are home to a large number of busy fishing ports and there fears for that sector. The fishing industry in both counties has added its support to the protests. Just seven months ago Falmouth played a key role in the successful rescue of over 100 fishermen from the Faroese factory trawler Athena which was on fire in the Western Approaches.

There are similar moves to save the Brixham rescue centre in Devon which is also under threat. Opponents of the closure plan claim that Brixham helped save over 300 lives last year, many of them fishermen. The Government has said that the closure plans were both designed to save money and  part of a wider national re-organisation of the rescue services.