Govt. trying to ignore Coastguard protest

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An email from Coastguard chief, Sir Alan Massey to staff earlier today suggests senior MCA management and the Government aren’t listening to the wave of opposition to their cutback plans.

In the email, Sir Alan, who visited Stornoway earlier this year, informs staff of the Transport Select Committee’s report and then quotes a comment from Transport Minister, Philip Hammond who welcomed the Select Committee’s recognition that the Coastguard Service is in urgent need of modernisation.

The embattled Minister, on the receiving end of the damning report that branded the cutback proposals as seriously flawed, comments: “The original proposals do not compromise safety and include increased resources for front-line rescue services. Reform will improve resilience in the system through improvements to IT and create better career opportunities for staff, as well as better pay and conditions. As the Transport Select Committee says, the need for reform is not in question. I am confident that through this genuine consultation process we will deliver the right solution to make our coastguard service fit for the 21st century.”

Current thinking within Whitehall has been seriously called into question by the Transport Select Committee, and many now believe the proposals have been well and truly holed below the water line.

The SNP have have called for an immediate statement from the UK Government. Welcoming the report, SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson Angus MacNeil MP, said: “The report is damning and exposes the recklessness of the UK government’s cost-cutting plans which would clearly put lives at risk.

“Given the overwhelming evidence against these reforms we need an immediate statement from the UK Government confirming that it will abandon its proposals, and end the uncertainty for coastguard personnel across the country.

“The SNP have battled against these cuts from day one and I have always argued that maritime safety, and not financial savings, should be the driving force behind any review. UK Ministers must respond responsibly to this report.”

An independent review team is currently sifting through the responses to the consultation exercise and will be reporting to the Government ahead of their expected announcement next month.