In a letter to Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Maria Eagle MP, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has revealed that the consultation on proposals to close more than half of the UK’s coastguard stations is to be reopened again in the summer. The consultation only closed last week, on Thursday 5th May. Yet the Secretary of State for Transport is still insisting that the consultation is now over.
The Department for Transport has come under further pressure today with the release of a letter from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Mike Penning MP to the Chair of the Transport Select Committee in which he gags coastguards from speaking to the Select Committee. Coastguards have subsequently expressed fears that they could face consequences for having made public submissions to the review after the letter raises the suggestion that they may be in breach of their ‘terms and conditions of employment’.
Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle MP has now written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond, urging him to abandon plans which would see only three coastguard stations offering round the clock cover.
Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said:
“The Tory-led Government has been forced to agree to another period of consultation because they know that Britain’s coastal communities have serious concerns about the scale of the proposed cuts to the coastguard service. To close more than half of the UK’s coastguard stations in one go, leaving just three offering 24-hour cover, is a cut too far. Instead of conceding yet another consultation, Ministers should now abandon this ill-thought out madness that will leave our coastline a more dangerous place.
“The Transport Secretary should also remove the gag he has placed on coastguards speaking out against the plans and stop his Ministers making threats about the terms and conditions of employment of those who risk their lives to protect our coastline.”