Inverclyde’s SNP MSP, Stuart McMillan, has today (31st May) commented on reports in the Press and Journal newspaper, reporting that a Freedom of Information request has shown that Stornoway and Belfast Coastguard Centres are left regularly short staffed.
For Argyll actually reported on this matter some time ago, in connection with a worrying state of affairs at Belfast Coastguard.
There are have long been, as the Press & Journal recounts, reports of ‘all time low morale’, increasingly high workloads and the possibility of industrial action by the coastguard staff.
This is germane to Inverclyde, to Argyll and the Isles, to Lochaber, to west and north west Scotland and to Northern Ireland.
Belfast and Stornoway Coastguard together cover a coastline from the Mull of Galloway though the Irish Sea coasts of western Scotland and Northern Ireland; the North Channel and the Atlantic coast of Northern Ireland; all the Scottish mainland coast and sea lochs north from the Mull of Galloway, including the Firth of Clyde; all of the Inner and Outer Hebridean islands to Cape Wrath, including The Minches; and the inshore waters of the Caledonian Canal as far as Fort Augustus.
Stornoway Coastguard also watch over the Northwest of Scotland and the Northeastern Atlantic Ocean.
The two stations cover this entire area between them – and we are now on the brink of the busiest sailing and watersports season of the year.
Stuart McMillan says: ‘This is a highly significant report which reveals the complete failure of the UK government to manage responsibly the vital coastguard services in the North Sea and across the Clyde coastal area.
Campaigners – including myself and MSPs across Scotland – warned that last year’s closure of centres in Clyde and Forth signalled the start of the dismantling of a vital emergency service, but the UK government continued regardless, promising upgrades of remaining centres that have clearly failed to materialise.
‘As we enter the holiday season and better weather there is no doubt Clyde’s coastal waters will have increased traffic which will be controlled at a co-ordination centre many miles away by Belfast.
‘This news report, once again, highlights the ludicrous and ill-thought out decision to close coastguard stations throughout Scotland, including Clyde MRCC.’