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Posted on 7 January 2014 at 12:33 GMT

PCS warns: Storms show need to retain coastguards

From a PCS press release:

Storms and floods in the UK show the need to retain expert coastguard resources and knowledge in our coastal communities.

As well as coordinating rescue operations at sea, coastguard staff have been assisting other emergency services and the Environment Agency in cities and towns.

Already, three coastguard stations have been closed by this government and five others - Swansea, Liverpool, Walton on the Naze, Brixham and Portland - are earmarked for closure.

Lives could be lost as resources were already thinly stretched before the bad weather set in.

In the summer the PCS revealed all stations were understaffed, and published official figures showing almost a quarter of shifts were staffed below the risk assessed levels between January 2012 and May 2013.

Retired staff have recently had to be brought in to provide a skeleton emergency service and in Liverpool untrained volunteers have been used to provide cover.

The union again calls for a halt to station closures and for ministers to act on the recommendations of the transport select committee and ensure proper risk assessments are carried out.

Clyde and Forth in Scotland, and Yarmouth in the east of England have already shut ahead of a new national operations centre on the south coast being up and running, contrary to a previous assurance from the government that this would not happen.

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