Committee chairwoman defends Stornoway coastguard visit

The House of Commons transport select committee has defended its decision not to visit Shetland during a tour of areas potentially hit by coastguard cuts.

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael had criticised MPs for opting to visit Stornoway instead to gauge the impact on the Western Isles of closure of the station there.

However the committee’s chairwoman Louise Ellman has insisted a tight schedule was behind the decision and the committee will rely on oral evidence coming forward on behalf of the Lerwick station.

A statement from the committee said: “As part of its inquiry into the coastguard, emergency towing vessels and the maritime incident response group, the House of Commons transport committee decided to visit at least one maritime rescue coordination centre and to take oral evidence from local coastguards and other interested parties away from Westminster.

“Given the tight deadline that the committee is working to, the committee could not visit every coastguard centre. It has decided to visit the coastguard centres in Falmouth and Stornoway because they were both discussed at length in the oral evidence session with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on 8th February.

“Coastguards from other areas are encouraged to submit written evidence and will be given the chance to give oral evidence, either in Falmouth, Stornoway or London.”

Ms Ellman said: “We want to hear the views of everyone affected by the government’s proposals for the coastguard service and are looking forward to meeting coastguards in Falmouth and Stornoway during our inquiry.

“We are sorry that we cannot visit every area affected by the proposals but we are determined to listen to the views of coastguards and others from across the nation.

“I will propose to the committee that we take oral evidence from coastguards from the Shetlands [sic].”


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