Scottish Parliamentary debate secured over Coastguards

Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has secured a debate in the Scottish Parliament calling for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to abandon plans to cut the number of Coastguard Stations in Scotland.

Dr Allan’s Member’s Debate entitled Coastguard Centre Cuts has already gained support from Lib-dem and Green MSPs, allowing it to be debated in parliament on Thursday 27th January 2011.

Dr Allan commented: “This debate will, I hope, provide an opportunity for MSPs of all parties to make clear their opposition to the drastic cuts being proposed by the UK Government to Coastguard Centres around Scotland.

“These cuts, which would see the work of five stations effectively centralised in one full-time station and one station operating in daylight hours only, have raised serious concerns about safety.

“Above all these proposals would deny the Coastguard the benefit of essential local knowledge around Scotland’s coastline. I know that colleagues representing other areas affected, particularly Shetland, have indicated their keenness to take part in this debate, which calls on the Scottish Government to continue to oppose these UK proposals in the strongest possible terms.”

Alasdair Allan’s motion is: “That the Parliament notes with concern the public consultation document launched by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that envisages what are believed to be drastic reductions in the number of maritime operations centres in the United Kingdom; notes that the proposed reductions would leave only two 24-hour centres operating, based in Aberdeen and in Southampton/Portsmouth; further notes that these would be supported by seven sub-centres and only one would be in Scotland at either Shetland or Stornoway; notes that this would result in the five operations centres in Scotland being reduced to two; believes that this raises serious questions about the future operation of the coastguard given that centres will now be covering what it considers to be such huge areas and that this has clear implications for many members of staff, and believes that these proposals require to be rethought.”