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Councils join to fight coastguard cuts

SHETLAND Islands Council and Western Isles Council have agreed to collaborate in a campaign to save their threatened coastguard coordination centres.

Last week the UK coalition government announced proposals for just one 24 hour coastguard station in Scotland based in Aberdeen, supported by a daylight hours only service from either Stornoway or Lerwick.

Both island authorities are seeking a joint meeting with shipping minister Mike Penning to make the case for both stations to be kept open.

They will also be arguing for the retention of the coastguard emergency tugs based around the western and northern isles, which are due to be axed in September following the October spending review.

Both island coastguard station employ around 20 people. Last week Maritime and Coastguard Agency chief executive Sir Alan Massey said the entire UK coastguard service could be coordinated by 48 staff on call at any one time.