Speaking in a House of Commons debate on the Coastguard service, Alan Reid, MP for Argyll & Bute, called on the Government to keep the threatened Clyde coastguard station open.
Mr Reid told the House of Commons that it was vitally important to keep the coastguard station and its staff who have acquired detailed local knowledge of the seas around his Argyll & Bute constituency.
Extracts from his speech follow.
“My constituency has many islands and peninsulas, which means its coastline is longer than that of France and that the Clyde coastguard station has a longer coastline than any of the coastguard stations to look after. Islands, peninsulas and sea lochs create a wide variety of currents and sea conditions, which is one reason why local knowledge is very important.”
“I also want to stress the importance of local knowledge in differentiating between different places that have the same name. On the islands and the mainland of the west of Scotland, a large number of places are called Tarbert because Tarbert means a narrow neck of land in Gaelic. It would be easy for someone not familiar with that to send the rescue vessel to the wrong place. It is also important to be able to differentiate between, for example, East Loch Tarbert and West Loch Tarbert.”
“Once the Government have had an opportunity to consider the responses to the consultation, I hope that they will recognise the unique challenges posed by the area served by the Clyde coastguard station and that they will keep it open to retain the valuable local knowledge that exists. It is important to point out that, if staff are forced to relocate to Aberdeen, as appears to be the case from the Government’s proposals, that is well over 100 miles away and many staff will not be able to do so, either for family or financial reasons. Valuable local knowledge will therefore be lost.”
“I am aware that the lease for the Clyde station comes to an end in 2012. That appears to be a major consideration in the reasoning behind the Government’s decision to close the station.”
“Real estate considerations should not be paramount. Safety should be the prime consideration and the fact that the lease is up for renewal should not be a major factor.”
“I hope that the Government will recognise the importance of the Clyde coastguard station and realise that they do not want to lose its staff’s experience and expertise. I hope that they will reflect on the consultation and will agree to keep the Clyde coastguard station open.”