- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Coastguard campaigner Joyce Watson AM welcomed the UK government’s rethink on the closure of two Welsh coastguard stations, but has demanded that the Minister moves fast to “repair some of the damage done,” and commit to securing the stations’ future.
She also accused local Tory MP Stephen Crabb of “shifting sideways” on the issue.
Mrs Watson said:
“Tory MP Stephen Crabb has shifted sideways on this issue. In recent media interviews Mr Crabb has presented himself as defender of the coastguards, yet in January he was reporting as defending the government’s plans, saying he was reassured that the safety of the coastline will not be undermined.”
Milford Haven and Holyhead centres are both under threat of closure under proposed modernisation plans, which would leave Swansea serving all of Wales, but Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has now said he will ‘look again’ at his plans.
Labour’s Joyce Watson AM (Mid and West Wales), who got the First Minister’s support when she held a debate in the Assembly to highlight the threat, said:
“I am delighted by the Minister’s climb-down, but this is not over yet. He must move fast to repair some of the damage done and commit to securing the stations’ future.
“His u-turn shows he has bowed to local pressure. Now he should listen to our coastguards who do this vital work, recognise the importance of Milford and Holyhead and invest in them.
“If a proper risk assessment had been carried out before the cuts were announced in December it would be clear how dangerous these proposals are. He has already caused massive uncertainty which could have a negative impact upon our tourism industry, as potential tourists carry out their own risk assessment and decide they don’t want to visit a coast which would be so inadequately protected.
“This matter must be resolved urgently, and I will not stop until it is.”
Mrs Watson has worked with local campaigners to support their efforts, held meetings with officials, and spoke at both Milford Haven rallies.