Police and fire services back campaign to save coastguard stations

The fight against threatened closure of Lerwick’s coastguard station has gained yet more support – this time from police and fire representatives.

The Northern Joint Police Board and the Highlands and Islands Fire Board have jointly written to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in Southampton to support the retention of 24-hour operating at the Knab Road station as well as at its Stornoway equivalent.

They also hope to see the two emergency towing vessels based here and in the Western Isles saved from the chop.

It follows last week’s visit to Shetland by MCA chief executive Sir Alan Massey.

Among the 50-strong throng of protesters who turned out at the Knab Road station for his arrival was local police board member Allison Duncan.

He said he had been left unimpressed with Sir Alan’s argument the agency had to modernise.

“As far as I’m concerned there is an element of truth that we have to modernise, but what price do you put on human life?

“Shetland is very much a maritime county and, over the years, we have unfortunately lost many lives at sea.

“But thank goodness, with the coastguard, we have been able to save lives as well. Without the coastguard stations it could mean an increased number of lost lives.”

In their joint-letter to the MCA the police and fire boards state: “As the police authority and fire and rescue authority respectively for the Highlands and Islands, an area directly and significantly affected by the current consultation proposals, the Northern Joint Police Board and the Highland and Islands Fire Board have a shared interest in the delivery of emergency services protecting the Highlands and Islands.

“Both boards recognise that the current proposals to change the structure of the coastguard service in the north of Scotland will have a fundamental impact on the area as a whole and, at their recent meetings, each board agreed to give its full support to the representations being made on these vital issues by the four constituent local authorities – Highland Council, Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

“Accordingly, the Northern Joint Police Board and the Highland and Islands Fire Board each associates itself with the responses being submitted by these councils to the consultation and with their detailed representations to the UK government on their proposals.”

Senior council representatives of Highland, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles recently met UK shipping minister Mike Penning to highlight their concerns.


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