HM Coastguards – A Motion to Save

A new year and another motion, this time I am a supporter. I feel that the Governments proposal to cut, or scale back the operations of the Coastguards is a huge step backwards. The Coastguard are the 4th emergency service. Many in this service are on call 24 hours a day. Most are volunteers, others are full-time. A great deal lives have been saved locally and internationally by members of this service in Cornwall.

I was once a member of Porthleven’s Coastguard Search and Rescue Team. I reluctantly gave it up as I felt that I could not do my role as a Kerrier Dictrict Councillor and Coastguard the full justice if I continued to do both. In a lot of cases, local knowledge is paramount in a rescue, especially when many areas in Cornwall have their official names, but are more commonly known by their local names. By cutting the base of operations like Falmouth could hamper a rescue operation. Falmouth is a important hub for local, international and liaison rescue operations. Cutting to save money seems like an easy option, that is until something happens and then you find out how much you need a well resourced service like HM Coastguards.

Below is the full wording of the Motion with all the supporters.

Motion proposed by Councillor Kenny, seconded by Councillor Eva and supported by Councillors Fonk, Hobbs, Keeling and Wallis:-

“This Council agrees to write to the Department of Transport and all our Cornish MPs in response to the consultation on the proposed cuts to the coastguard service, to express our grave concerns and make the following points.

1. The location of Falmouth MRCC is close to the Western Approaches and at the entrance to Falmouth harbour, an extremely busy bunkering port. It is also at the gateway to the English Channel and is vital to ensure the safe passage of vessels in this busy seaway.

2. MRCC Falmouth has the equipment and expertise to handle international maritime distress throughout the world and is generally recognised as the world leader in this field. To reduce the operational ability of this station to day time only fails to recognise the strategic situation of this station dealing with international distress across vast time zones.

3. The station at Falmouth is a modern, fully equipped and purpose built communications base. To propose that the costly construction and fitting out of a new operations base in Solent together with the inherent costs of relocation, as a method of saving money, simply does not make sense. We already have a prime example of the failure of this thinking in the redundant regional fire control centre at Taunton.

4. It is noted that there are proposals to reduce the frontline staff by approximately 50%, yet only 8 posts will be lost from MCA headquarters. If cost cutting is vital then cuts should first be made in an already top heavy administration, thus protecting frontline services.

5. Whilst not in the current proposals, this Council seeks assurances that no cuts are planned in the number of, or organisation of, local coastguard rescue teams.”

9 comments

  • Anonymous

    In the modern world with technology the actual siting of the station is not relevant,we have far too many stations,Canada for example has two.Im sure its nice for those empolyed there but its not needed.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous

    You clearly have no idea of the importance of local knowledge, it is often vital in determining what resources to allocate and from where. It really is not as simple as looking at a grid reference and sending the closest unit. Time really does save lives and without a local 24 hour manned service peoples lives will be put in danger.

    (speaking as someone with many years search and rescue experience)

  • Anonymous

    If i want a lifeboat I want local knowledge, I dont care where that rescue is coordinated from,no other country has as many coastguard stations,they havent adapted to the change in communications,Im sure your experience as a volunteer coastguard has no relevance to this debate,but your public service is much appreciated,you werent a prof coastguard as far as Im aware,so please dont try to stifle debate by over playing your role as a volunteer.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry mate dont jump to conclusions – was not a volounteer but 4 years full time.

    Stifling the debate! What did you say your experience is and what makes your comments any more relevant than mine?

    Coastguards coordinate a lot more than lifeboats, they also corrdinate the rescue helicopters and cliff rescue teams.

    Local knowledge at the cordinating centre will dictate whether a lifeboat, SAR helicopter or cliff resuce team is sent. Local knowledge of traffic and local roads (especially in summer) may dictate that although a particular cliff team is closest they are not actually best situated for a given job. Knowledge of the height and accessibility of a cliff may dictate that a helo is sent instead, I could go on…

  • Anonymous

    sadly andy i dont think this is a debate about your experience of cliffs in Cornwall is it,its a debate about what best for the coastgurd services in the united kingdom ,any full time station can cordinate rescues, (dont think cliff rescue teams are much needed in the mid atlantic)its as simple as that,other countries recognise that,we have too many coastgurd stations,yes im sure it would be nice to keep them all and sentiment will doubtless play a part but they simply arent needed,
    Please elaborate on your 4 years full time experience,you were a volunteer coastguard ,you arent claiming your Naval service makes you an expert on this subject, are you?

  • Cllr Andrew Wallis

    Last anon,

    I have not posted in the comments. Someone else has on their experience. I merely pointed out in my original post that I had been in the Coastguards, not my experience during that time. As I said that was someone else. I always put my name to any post I make. Hope that clears up any confusion

  • Anonymous

    Anon – it was not Andy that said he had experience, it was me – four years full time search and rescue with over 250 jobs.

    You still havent said what makes your comments any more valid than mine, i.e. what relevant experience you have – my guess is none.

    As for cliff teams in the atlantic – see my previous post – the coast guard deals with much more than lifeboats. If we are going to discuss this then lets look at the complete picture.

  • Anonymous

    I have no idea who you are or what experience you have or dont have,it isnt important,what matters is why cllr Wallis as moderator allowed you to post answering questions that were directed at him,by all means lets look at the complete picture-Falmouth offers nothing beyond what any other site does,its position is irrelevant,the uk doesnt need as many stations,its as simple as that,

  • Anonymous

    You do know what experience I have as I have just told you – you dont seem to have any. I strongly disagree to its importance and speak from a position of authority as I seem to have a better understanding of how MRCC works than you do. Have you ever been there? picked up a dead body? a cliff faller? pregnant woman? surfer in difficulty? searched for a capsized fishing boat? rescued the crew off a sinking tanker…..

    Your initial post made a statement to which I replied – it wasn't posed as a question to anyone. I have simply responded to that.

    I expect cllr wallace simply makes sure that any post on here is polite and lets them through as is – if he didn't he would probably be accused of censoring.

    You are pro closing Falmouth – fine, thats your opinion. I and (I think) Cllr Wallis think you are wrong – live with it, lifes too short mate. We are going around in circles so i'll duck out now better things to do.

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