U-turn revealed on TV
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond today told the BBC that he was looking again at plans to slash the Coastguard service, although the statement remained vague in detail.
Following a report in the Times after what appeared to be a department leak, Mr Hammond said, ‘It’s not about a U-turn, it’s about deciding how best to implement what will be a very a big change in how the coastguard operates.’
Explaining this, he said that the government was re-examining plans to cut the number of coastguard stations from 18 to 5. ‘We are looking again at the best configuration that will allow us to deliver those technological improvements, those working practice improvements and we will announce our conclusions to Parliament before the summer recess.’
The government rethink on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency restructure can be traced to March, when MP Sheryll Murray’s husband, a trawlerman, died in an accident on board his boat. Pressure from other coastal MPs and interested groups including the RYA has added to the growing campaign against the proposed cuts and a public consultation period was extended to allow all voices to be heard.