The closure of a second Coastguard station in Scotland will not endanger public safety, the head of the maritime agency insisted yesterday.
Clyde Coastguard in Greenock will see its final shutdown today after calls were redirected to Stornoway and Belfast a month ago. The closure, which follows the axeing of Forth Coastguard station in September, is part of a number of UK government changes to the service.
Campaigners have been fighting to save Clyde – which, together with Forth, affects 42 jobs – while MPs and MSPs have raised concerns over safety.
Sir Alan Massey, chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, was in Greenock yesteday to thank station staff.
He said: “I want to reassure the public that what we are doing will result in a better service. We are not going to be putting people at risk and we would not be going through with these changes if we thought they would threaten safety.”
Westminster’s Scottish affairs committee last month published a report backing calls to save the station. It said the closures would leave “a major gap in local knowledge” among the remaining maritime rescue co-ordination centres (MRCCs).
Coastguard staff in Stornoway and Belfast will have responsibility for the Clyde area.
Sir Alan said: “I can completely understand where people are coming from, but first of all, our coastguards are highly professional people. We have been helping them with training, with briefings and with the transfer of that knowledge.
“For the past month we have had the teams from Belfast and Stornoway in place handling calls, with Clyde here as a kind of back-stop.”
He added that there had been “no issues at all” since Aberdeen took over responsibility for the Forth area.