Coastguard cutbacks scaled down

Two coastguard centres threatened with closure have won a shock reprieve - but one previously saved from the axe will be shut.

Milford Haven and Holyhead stations will stay open but Swansea, which was to be downgraded under the plans, will close by 2015.

The news has prompted a mixed response in Wales with shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain urging the UK Government to also do a "U-turn" on its Swansea decision.

Swansea was initially safe from closure, with its operations being limited to daylight hours only.

But campaigns to save Milford Haven and Holyhead stations saw a 20,000-name petition handed in to Downing Street.

They argued that as well as watching over the UK's third largest port, the Milford Haven centre was also responsible for the coastline from Carmarthen to Barmouth - an area usually "very busy" with tourists and leisure craft.

Today, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said Holyhead was being favoured instead of the MCA base at Liverpool following representations over Welsh language concerns.

And he added Swansea would now closed instead of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire - citing a higher level of Government employment in Wales' second city.

Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen West and Dinefwr, Jonathan Edwards, described the announcement as "bittersweet".

He said: "Milford Haven and Holyhead have fought fierce battles to be kept open and we welcome the announcement that they will remain fully operational.

"But there are now huge questions as to why exactly Swansea is to be closed? I will be asking what representations were made by ministers from the new Welsh Government on this?"

Organisers of the Save Milford Campaign expressed their delight at news the service in West Wales had been saved but described the news that Swansea was closing as "devastating".

The Welsh Government said UK ministers would have to "account for any consequences" for sea safety.

A spokesman added: "We will be seeking urgent assurances from the UK Government that they have considered all the potential risks of closing such a strategically important station."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said he still remained concerned despite the UK Government watering down its plans.

Its original proposals envisaged cutting the coastguard centres across the UK from 19 to nine, with only three remaining open 24 hours a day.

However, the revised plans will now see 11 centres stay open - all of which will be on a 24-hour basis.

Mr Crow said: "We will be seeking further assurances there will be no impact on the safety of our members out on the high seas.

"What we have proved conclusively is that campaigning pressure can and does work when it comes to resisting Government cuts.

"We will take this momentum with us into other areas where services are under attack."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing