People urged to attend public meeting on coastguard closure plan

People are being urged to turn out for a public consultation meeting on the future of the coastguard service later this month.

Maritime chiefs will put forward their case for modernisation and cost-cutting when they attend the Town Hall in Lerwick on 28th February.

Meanwhile First Minister Alex Salmond is expected to meet Prime Minister David Cameron to press home the case for coastguard services to be devolved.

During the weekend rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead contacted over 40 organisations with an interest in marine safety, to gauge views on bringing control of coastguard services north of the border.

Under the MCA proposals either Lerwick or Stornoway coastguard stations would close its doors for good and the remaining station would be left to operate in daytime hours only.

During the Town Hall meeting audience members will be able to ask questions and put across their views. A follow-up meeting will be held in Orkney in March.

A statement from the lobby group fighting the plans said: “Save Shetland Coastguard campaigners feel it is important the public take the opportunity to come and hear first hand what the MCA proposal means for their community.

“Over 90 per cent of the world’s trade and goods are transported by sea, whether it is a new mobile phone or a three piece suite: potentially these are changes that not only affect the professional and volunteer coastguard staff but have an impact on everybody, whether they live inland or on the coast.

“We are encouraging members of the public to write to their MP about this consultation and proposal, a template letter is available from the PCS union website.”

The announcement of the public meeting came after MCA chief executive Sir Alan Massey heard concerns from staff at the Knab station on Friday.


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