MP defends rethink on coastguard cuts

THE MP who was in favour of the reform of the coastguard service said this week the Government has not done a u-turn after it was revealed the Humber station will remain open 24 hours a day.

Robert Goodwill, MP for Whitby, attracted criticism earlier this year from sea-farers in Whitby when he backed controversial plans to close Humber coastguard station at night.

It was announced last week by the Government the Humber station, which covers Whitby and its surrounding coastline, will remain open 24 hours a day.

The decision was welcomed by skippers of the local fishing fleet, the Whitby Charter Skippers’ Association and other users of pleasure craft believing that someone must have been kicked up the backside and seen sense.

But Mr Goodwill told the Gazette it wasn’t a u-turn and coastguard stations around the country will still be closing as part of a huge reform of the service and plans to link the different bases around the coastline will still go-ahead.

For example if there was a big incident off Whitby, the Humber coastguard could deal with it while another station would take over other duties in the area’s waters.

He said: “It is not a u-turn.

“This can’t be described as leaving things the way they are.

“There was a general consensus and a lot of people put forward views as far as the Humber coastguard station is concerned, that the concern was the point of transition from day time to night time.

“There were concerns there would be a lack of continuity.

“It is obviously good news that people are seeing this consultation was done genuinely, that the Government hadn’t made up its mind and it has listened.”

Mr Goodwill said there would still be a lot of changes made to the service and defended his decision to back the reform.

He added: “The vast majority of traffic off the Yorkshire coast is day time.

“The charter skippers are out in daylight hours, the Esk Belle goes out in daylight hours.

“The concern about the Humber station being 24/7 – I am not sure was really borne out of the fact that the vast majority of Whitby is daylight traffic.

“This reform is recognition that the coastguard service has changed a lot in the last 30 years.

“We no longer rely on guys with a pair of binoculars – we have much more high-tech systems.”