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News - 24 November 2011

Minister reveals changes to MCA

The spokesman for the Department of Transport, Shipping Minister Mike Penning, announced on Tuesday 22/11/11 the changes to The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)

Several UK coastguard centres previously earmarked for closure have been given a reprieve - but eight will still go, with a loss of 159 jobs. At present, the 18 operate in nine pairs covering overlapping geographical areas. Under the revised plans, at least one of each pair will be retained.

The government says the current system comprises "dispersed centres with no network of national integration" and therefore has "very limited resilience in the event of high demand or technical problems".

Mr Penning told the Commons:
"However, the decisions I have announced today will deliver the modernised, nationally networked, fully resilient coastguard service we require for the future while reducing costs."

The move would give "better support for our coastguard volunteers" and "front-line rescue capabilities", he added.

Shadow shipping minister Jim Fitzpatrick said he had "no doubt" the proposals were "at least partly driven by financial constraints".

The Scottish National Party accused ministers of putting lives at risk by closing two out of five stations in Scotland.

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said in a statement he was "very dismayed" that the government ignored campaigns to save the Swansea centre.

Apart from the MCA’s Head Office in Southampton and its Training facility in Highcliffe, there will be a new Maritime Operations Centre (MOC), to be established in Fareham, Hants, with a back-up facility at the existing Dover coordination centre, both operating on a 24 hour basis. This is a purpose built emergency services centre at the vacant Fire Control Centre building at Fareham. The building’s existing facilities mean that the Maritime Operations Centre can be established quickly.


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