Warning over closure of Coastguard Rescue Centres

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Campaigners have warned that "lives will be lost" as a result of the closure of more than half of the country's Coastguard Rescue Centres, announced by ministers yesterday.

Under the plans, eight Coastguard coordination centres will close with the loss of 159 jobs.

Facilities at Swansea, Portland in Dorset, Clyde and Forth in Scotland, Liverpool, Great Yarmouth, Brixham in Devon, and Walton on the Naze in Essex will all go by March 2015.

A Maritime Operations Centre, which will operate 24 hours-a-day, will be established in Hampshire to take over some of the responsibilities.

Shipping Minister Mike Penning said he believed the reforms would "make better use of the talents and skills of our Coastguards and will provide more interesting and rewarding work with better pay".

The confirmed blueprint significantly waters down the Government's original closure plans, but shadow shipping minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: "I have no doubt these proposals are at least partly driven by financial constraints."

A petition to save the Coastguard stations attracted more than 9,500 signatures. Its author wrote that all every coastguard station had rejected proposals to set up three Maritime operations Centres in place of all but five of the country's 18 Coastguard Coordination Centres.

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