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‘Critical’ to fix MCA staff issue

A CALL has been made for MCA chief executive Alan Massey to take urgent action to address a “critical” staffing situation in Shetland after the resignation of four coastguard officers.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has written to Massey saying something needs to be done before more local people walk away from the organisation and local expertise is lost.

It emerged last week that the islands’ volunteer coastguard teams were stood down at the end of May due to problems with paperwork. The eight cliff rescue teams were “taken offline” until refresher training was provided and the records updated.

The resignation of four coastguard officers in Lerwick came on the back of reports that an employee was dismissed on the spot following a failure to report a radio procedure.

The action has contributed to a further breakdown in trust between the staff and leadership, Carmichael said.

“The Shetland coastguard services appear now to be at breaking point,” he said on Monday.

“We now learn that we have had no cliff rescue teams since June. I had hoped after his visit to Shetland in February, and after hearing the concerns of staff directly, that Alan Massey would be more willing to engage with the problems and foresee issues such as this.

“He now needs to conduct a thorough review of the staffing situation to begin to repair some of the bridges that have been burnt with Shetland coastguard officers and volunteers.”

On Friday, an MCA spokeswoman offered reassurance that the islands’ coastguard rescue helicopter would respond to any emergency on the coastline.

If necessary, coastguard rescue teams from outside Shetland could be brought in to deal with an emergency, she added.

General Election - 12 December 2019