G R Direct - Free Dishwasher OfferG R Direct - Free Dishwasher OfferG R Direct - Free Dishwasher OfferG R Direct - Free Dishwasher OfferG R Direct - Free Dishwasher Offer
Tuesday 23 July 2024
 15.7°C   W Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

News / MCA taking volunteers for granted

VOLUNTEER coastguard teams in Shetland are upset about the way they were treated as part of the government’s consultation on whether or not to close the Lerwick coastguard coordinating station.
It has emerged that the 128 coastguard volunteers in the isles were never asked or told of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) plans to close the station, located at The Knab, in Lerwick. A 14 week consultation period is now under way.
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott met at the weekend with 22 of the station’s officers and their deputies to hear their concerns.
The volunteers’ local knowledge is often crucial to the success of rescue operations. Organised in 16 units between Fair Isle and Unst, the volunteers work closely with the watch officers at the Lerwick station.
Spokesman David Hopwood said: “It beggars belief that they could even propose this level of re-organisation without consulting anybody. In this day and age you just can’t do this.
“They are only consulting now because their hand was forced by MP Alistair Carmichael. Without him we would not have this consultation, just redundancy notices for those who work in the Lerwick station.”
He added that the consultation document was full of inaccuracies ranging from the number and type of incidents coastguards are dealing with to the level of non-incident services the station delivers to a seafaring community.
He added: “Along with the emergency tugs the coastguard station at The Knab has a very visible presence, and that gives an island community such as ours a degree of reassurance.
“It is that reassurance that the government is serious about maritime safety that is not even mentioned in the consultation paper. It is a little bit like having comprehensive insurance or just third party insurance.
“You can get away with third party insurance, but most people prefer the reassurance and the back-up that comprehensive insurance gives you. But the theme of the consultation document seems to be anything but re-assurance, it is just about cost-cutting.”
Mr Scott added: “These proposals take volunteer coastguards totally for granted. The MCA expects that volunteers will respond at any time, to a call out and that is what people around the coast of Shetland do.”
The Lerwick station plays a fundamental role in co-ordinating these call-outs, getting the locations of incidents right and providing the communications that allow the volunteers to report on situations, Mr Scott said.
“Shetland has had many communications problems of late, from non-existent to slow broadband to full failures of phones, pagers and mobiles. Yet the MCA has no agreement with BT over the necessity of upgrading the physical connections. So if the Lerwick station is closed, then there is a truly frightening potential for lifesaving communications to be worse.

“It’s now abundantly clear that the MCA have devised a centralisation model to suit the south coast of England. They seem appallingly complacent about safety around our coast. These proposals are fundamentally flawed.

“Volunteer coastguards around Shetland have provided a sterling lifesaving service for years. Yet they haven’t even had the courtesy of a letter explaining the proposals from the MCA,” he added.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader will meet with first minister Alex Salmond later this week to discuss a national campaign to keep coastguard stations in Lerwick and in Stornoway open.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.

 
Categories

Newsletters

Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.