- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
by Sion Morgan, Western Mail (Jan 17 2011)
FIRST Minister Carwyn Jones has indicated he has concerns about government proposals to close two Welsh coastguard stations.
Milford Haven and Holyhead stations are to close, with Swansea’s coastguard station being downgraded to a daytime service only.
Speaking in the Assembly chamber, the First Minister confirmed he plans to write to the secretary of state concerning the matter.
He was responding to Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, Joyce Watson, Labour’s rural affairs spokesman on the issue.
She said: “On Friday I had a meeting with Carl Evans, the rescue and coordination manager at the centre, and the figures speak for themselves. In the last five years the rescue team in Milford has coordinated more than 3,500 emergency callouts and taken part in nearly 4,500 operations.”
The First Minister responded that the Secretary of State for Transport had written to him and he was formulating a response.
He said the proposal was worrying, as it appeared that the Swansea centre would be expected to cover the whole Welsh coast.
Mr Jones said: “The worry has to be that call out times will be delayed.”
Under the Government proposals, Milford Haven, which employs 23 people, would close in 2012-13, and Holyhead a year later.
Speaking last month, Shipping Minister Mike Penning said the aim was to “improve present levels of service to the public while reducing costs.”
Mr Penning told MPs there would be just three 24-hour centres covering the UK – at Aberdeen, in the Southampton-Portsmouth area and at Dover.
In addition, five sub-centres during daylight hours – at Swansea, Falmouth, the Humber, one in northern Scotland and one at Belfast or Liverpool.
A number of politicians have already voiced concern following the proposed closures. Stephen Crabb, Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said it was “vital that the quality and safety of the front-line service is not compromised.”
Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd has also stated that it was ridiculous to expect coastguards in Liverpool or Belfast to cover the whole of North Wales.
Meanwhile Joyce Watson jointly launched an Assembly statement of opinion with Alun Davies AM, asking others to express their concern.
Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/01/17/coastguard-cuts-could-delay-call-outs-says-first-minister-91466-27998120/#ixzz1BNCA2Uk0