The UK Government today announced that the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Holyhead, better known as Holyhead Coastguard, will be closed in 2014/15 as part of a complete modernisation of the HM Coastguard service. You can read the full consultation document here.
I had written to the Secretary of State for Transport and stressed the important work carried out by the Holyhead Coastguard, along with the serious jobs situation in Anglesey and Holyhead in particular. While it is very saddening to learn that the station will close, I have been reassured that this change will not affect the front-line services carried out by volunteer Coastguards or the RNLI and that there will be no fall in the provision or standard of service to the North Wales coastline, which remains the most important factor.
The proposed closure of Holyhead Coastguard will not take place until 2014/15 and some staff will have the opportunity to transfer to better paid roles within the Coastguard. I will be making further representations to both the UK Government and to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to ensure that everything possible is done to help all the current staff. If you would like to speak to me in more detail regarding this announcement or the consultation into the modernisation of the HM Coastguard service, please get in touch via the 'contact me' section above.
UPDATE: Following careful consideration of the consultation documents I do not believe that the MCA have put forward a credible case for the closure of Holyhead Coastguard. Their proposals make no allowance for the Welsh language, no allowance for the difficulties non-Welsh speakers face understanding Welsh place names, and no allowance for Holyhead's proximity to the RAF's UK Search and Rescue Headquarters at RAF Valley. For these reasons I don't understand the MCA's logic in wanting to close Holyhead ahead of other stations for example.
I have now raised these concerns with Nick Bourne AM, the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, and we agree that the emphasis absolutely must be put on safety and have decided to seek a meeting with the Minister responsible as soon as possible in order to put the case for retaining the Coastguard at Holyhead.