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Coastguard campaigners amass 13,500 signatures

CAMPAIGNERS behind the fight to protect the Lerwick coastguard station from government cuts claim to have collected the biggest petition in the isles’ history.

Around 13,500 people have signed the Save Our Station (SOS) petition calling for the Lerwick co-ordinating centre to be kept open 24 hours a day.

The petition will be handed to northern isles MP and deputy chief whip Alistair Carmichael at 12.15pm on Friday.

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Mr Carmichael has promised to present the petition to the House of Commons transport select committee, which is running an inquiry into the government’s plans to close 10 of its 19 coastguard stations, leaving just two 24 hour operations in Aberdeen and Southampton.

Under the proposals either Lerwick or Stornoway station would close and be turned into a daytime only service.

PCS union representative and SOS member Alex Dodge thanked the public for their backing of the campaign.

“The support from the people of Shetland and Orkney and further afield has been absolutely amazing and it has really helped us through our campaign knowing that we have the island communities behind us,” Ms Dodge said.
The campaigners were further encouraged by a debate in Westminster hall last week attended by MPs from nine political parties, including ones from Northern Ireland.

Shipping minister Mike Penning has said that he believes the proposals will change once the consultation has ended in May and prime minister David Cameron has given assurances that front line services will be maintained at current levels.

 

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