Coastwatch volunteers expect extra pressure when Great Yarmouth coastguard closes

07:11 26 July 2012

Local MP Brandon Lewis meets the Yarmouth North Denes Coast Watch team.

Local MP Brandon Lewis meets the Yarmouth North Denes Coast Watch team.

Archant © 2012

VOLUNTEERS have said they will feel under extra pressure to keep a look out on Great Yarmouth’s busy seafront when the town’s coastguard station is closed down.

Members of North Denes Coastwatch spoke out about their concerns over the controversial scrapping of the coastguard base but have conceded they will have to take the changes in their stride.

A campaign to keep the Havenbridge House-based service open, which included a petition signed by 9,000 people, could not stop the government’s decision to axe the base, which must close by June next year.

Coastwatch members this week spoke of their concern about the extra strain they could be put under after they were visited by their new patron, Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis.

Jan Goddard, Coastwatch deputy controller, said having Mr Lewis as a local champion would help boost the group’s profile, which was especially timely and important as the coastguard was going.

“Having a high profile name in Brandon Lewis does help us in our fundraising and it gives us that little bit extra oomph,” Mrs Goddard added. “It (the coastguard closure) will certainly put more pressure on us in terms of the smaller craft that use the inshore waters.” Mrs Goddard explained larger vessels came under an automatic identification system, so their location could be traced, but tracking smaller pleasure boats and fishing craft relied “purely on eyes and ears”, which is what Coastwatch volunteers provide.

She said: “We feel that what we’re doing is going to become more important. We can’t influence what is going to be happening with the coastguard, we’ll take it in our stride and we will be there every single day and continue to do what we do to the best of our abilities.”

On Wednesday Mr Lewis visited members of the Coastwatch team in their tower at the far end of North Drive and assured them he would work to keep them in the community.

Mrs Goddard added: “He can’t prevent what is going to happen (to the coastguard) because that’s a government decision. But speaking to him, he is absolutely determined that we’re going to carry on doing the job we do.”

Coastwatch volunteers man the station every day of the year and keep watch over the inshore waters and beaches stretching from the Britannia Pier to Scroby Sands wind farm at Caister. They pay particular attention to smaller vessels and also provide advice to beach goers.

Yarmouth coastguard is among eight bases across the UK that have been earmarked for closure in a government shake up that will see its calls dealt with by stations on the Humberside and Essex coast.

Government sources say sophisticated technology will ensure staff can deal with calls away from the locality.

● Coastwatch members are always on the look out for more people to join their ranks. Anyone interested in volunteering must be able to climb a near-vertical ladder and be aged between 25 - 80. Call 01493 322192 for details.


  • So the wonderful Mr Lewis stated that the coastguard station had to close putting the live of local fishermen and other seafares in danger then put on his second face to accept the post of patron to Coastwatch. Now is that not a typical two faced mp.

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    Thursday, July 26, 2012

  • Lewis,useless Essex boy.

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    Thursday, July 26, 2012

  • Righty ho ho - I love these kinds of articles - MP's blindly believing and even fuelling the puffed up rubbish they are fed by the deluded dreamers of this world... Let me just make clear here that these are my own personal views (not those of the Agency I work for) and are formed from my extensive experience in the Career I have chosen and spent 16 years or more doing…. – Right on with a little truth telling and article clarification! (this will obviously be further expanded upon in my soon to be created Wiki page on the subject). Right Brandon Lewis - please please please thoroughly research a subject before you jump in feet first and spout off - after all your history of spouting off in a poorly researched, and lack of grasp of the subject matter way on the HM Coastguard closure programme, is almost legendary to all full time Coastguards who work, or have recently worked at Great Yarmouth - myself included. As a full time Coastguard Officer - soon to be either moved or made redundant, I have had the 'pleasure' of dealingspeaking with Coastwatch for a number of years ... and it’s quite an eye opener to be fair, it’s not maybe what the willingly donating public are aware of but let’s have a go at putting it 'how it is' Coastwatch are not Coastguards! they are (as mentioned in the article) Volunteers who watch the Coast – un-noted however is that it is for their own pleasure (or misguided sense of responsibility in the affairs of the coast), they are a registered charity or they form part of a number of registered charities covering their original charity organisation or its splinter charity organisation National Coastwatch and the Sea Safety Group (or one of a number of separate entities that have formed themselves when disagreement over how and on what they should spend their charitable funds...) Although as I am Very much aware these funds go on "essential equipment to help save life at sea “as I was once told when in civvies (off duty) and approached by a bucket shaking Coastwatch person of pensionable age (Civil Service political correctness training has worked well) including those that wander around in their home grown highly ‘blinged’ meaningless uniforms. While I will happily admit to knowing a number of their ranks and knowing that they mean no harm and will happily do anything to help anyone, they are for the best part very nice people, who are often (but unfortunately) led by wanna be Coastguards with someone to impress. There is however a line to be drawn between someone or an organisation that means well, with people volunteering there for something to do, and those that divert hard to come by charitable funds away from other organisations that would probably be more deserving and use them more effectively – for example would those dropping money into the Coastwatch buckets rather be paying for someone’s twilight years hobby buying expensive radioradarweather equipment that will most likely never achieve anything of use, or be legally used, or would you rather put money into a charity that cares for the elderly (when funding should come from elsewhere more “central”) or for cancer researchcare, premature baby care, cot deaths, or hospital equipment (though yet again maybe this should also come from a “central” source but I will stop there before I go off on one about that), or the RNLI (who are worth every penny they are given and more). Coastwatch look out to sea and report things that they think are of concern – a role that has been redundant for years since the closure of the HM Coastguard Stations on the coast that worked on visual lookout only – which was before they days of advanced communications and distress alerting (I believe a figure once bounded about regarding visual watch out to sea was that only 2% of incidents 30 years ago where those initiated by use of a visual alerting means (firing a red distress flare), and that was in the days of low vhf use, before satellite communications and distress beacons and regulations to prevent virtually everything! Times have moved on from the need to have visual and radar coverage of the coast… that’s one of the reasons why the coastguard moved away from visual watch stations years ago, if you don’t need something then why pay for it to be there? In my time as a Coastguard Officer I struggle to find a time or particular incident where having them on the cliff or sea front (in their long since abandoned Coastguard Lookouts) achieved anything that a member of the public walking their dog and happening across an incident, or a Coastguard Rescue Team tasked to investigate something, couldn’t achieve. More specifically they have never been called to assist on a busy Yarmouth sea front that I am aware of (that’s what Coastguard Rescue Officers do! ….. they do no emergency response work or co-ordination at all (which is what the Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centres do!) , No searching, No investigating, No planning, No Co-ordinating …. NOTHING but observe and listen in on radios from their lookouts and busy themselves phoning the Coastguard with weather information (sometimes getting a little upset when we can’t take the wind direction and speed if we have a search and rescue incident running). Worse still is their occasional insistence that if they pass a piece of information on regarding the incident or even have the mother of a missing child come in and use their phone that constitutes them having taken a leading role in the incident, which will then of course be mentioned on their website … they have in all honesty done either very little, or nothing to deserve any credit. This is highlighted when they often omit the roles of other organisations and charities that were key to the positive execution of any search and rescue incident they had any involvement in when writing their own tale of daring deeds! They will do exactly the same when the Coastguard Stations close as they do now – pretend they are coastguards to the public (I’ve had them do this to me and my colleagues before). I have been a serving Coastguard Officer both full time and part time (often simultaneously) through a number of grades for more than 16 years (as I have always taken great pride and interest in my career and saving a life), I am a Search and Rescue Co-ordination specialist that the Government has invested a great deal of money in training. It gets my back up when they claim to even be required to take up the pressure when we go – when their training and experience is simply inadequate to compensate for the loss of highly trained and experienced full time Coastguard officers…. They simply will not need (or be able) to take up any extra work, or use their woefully inadequate search and rescue experience and skills when we go, there will be sufficient money and time thrown atinto the new set up until it works the way they want it to. That’s what they have done elsewhere with other services after all. A visitor to my operations room recently gave me the perfect quote that sums up how I feel the public should see the Coastwatch when compared to the Coastguard “it’s like would you really want the Police being replaced by neighbourhood watch” for me personally and to be 100% honest No! I very definitely would not want the Coastwatch “taking any extra pressure when the Coastguard closes, the New structure would more than cover that (though it will not be perfect I am sure, it will at least work) without the need for these individuals to interfere. I implore all that read this PLEASE consider very carefully how you donate your spare cash… donate to a hobby job that claims to Coastguard and take part in search and rescue (when they simply do not)? or donate to the RNLI or other Volunteer Lifeboat Organisations that actually physically take part and effect a rescue, or maybe one of the thousands of actually genuinely helpful charities that put something back into the life we all try so hard to get through every day with the mounting difficulties of everyday life, illness & disease, depression, bereavement, and even so far as providing the cash for much needed medicalresearch equipment that isn’t provided where it is needed and has to be fund raised! Financially times are very hard for a good proportion of the population so should charity go where it will be used to good effect to benefit the masses not just the bored few? Regards A Concerned Coastguard Officer!

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    Sunday, July 29, 2012

  • Quote "VOLUNTEERS have said they will feel under extra pressure to keep a look out on Great Yarmouth’s busy seafront when the town’s coastguard station is closed down" So currently the hm coastguard at haven bridge can't even see the beach or sea, so is coastwatch saying they don't look that hard now and will have to look harder when coastguard goes? I can't see any difference it will make to coastwatch as they only look for boats ships and log them on a bit of paper. Also look for problems etc and let the coastguard know So what's the problem

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    Thursday, July 26, 2012

  • Perhaps Mr. Lewis, and Miss Coffey (when not freeloading at the Olympics), might care to give up some of their long summer hols (17 July to 3 September) to assist Coastwatch and perhaps also learn about something of which neither knows anything - the importance of the Coastguard.

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    T Doff

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

  • I think there is a bit more to it than looking out for boatsships and logging them on a bit of paper OnlyMe2011. Apart from that North Denes are part of the Sea Support Group and should not be confused with any other organisation of a similar name.

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    Friday, July 27, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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