Public and Commercial Services Union
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Prove coastguard cuts would not risk lives

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been challenged by PCS to prove its plans to cut coastguard stations would not put lives at risk.

The union has called on agency bosses to run a live test of its proposed centralised control system before its consultation about closing 10 of the UK’s 19 stations ends on 24 March.

The MCA announced the closure plans in December, saying centres in Solent and Aberdeen would be expanded.

The union, which represents 750 staff in the agency, has serious concerns about the loss of local knowledge and says ensuring proper emergency cover for our coastlines is vital.

The call comes as Sir Alan Massey, MCA chief executive, faces questions from the Commons transport select committee tomorrow.

So far, 77 MPs have signed a parliamentary motion opposing the planned cuts, including four Tories and 10 Liberal Democrats. Lib Dem opponents include current president Tim Farron and former leader Menzies Campbell.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These cuts could literally be a matter of life and death. We are deeply concerned that closing these stations would leave our coastlines a more dangerous place to be.

“If the MCA and the government are confident in their assertion that the cuts won’t cost lives, they should be prepared to put it to the test. Without that, people will rightly conclude that officials and ministers haven’t successfully made their case and the consultation should be stopped.”

Jeremy Gautrey, PCS negotiations officer for the MCA, said: "What is clear from talking to coastguards from Shetland down to Falmouth is the level of anger among staff that these proposals have been drawn up with no consultation with operational coastguards or having been trialed in a live situation to test their resiliance."

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