Hope for Great Yarmouth coastguard station

THE future of Great Yarmouth's Coastguard station has been thrown into doubt - after Maritime and Coastguard Agency's cost-cutting plans appeared to be undergoing a rethink.

Plans by the Agency would have seen the station close and 36 staff at Havenbridge House lose their jobs, as the responsibility for co-ordinating search-and-rescue efforts was focused elsewhere.

The Yarmouth station, which currently provides coverage from Haile Sand Fort in Lincolnshire to Southwold, was one of ten such centres around the country marked to be shelved as numbers were reduced from 18 to eight.

However, following an outcry from those who said a loss of local knowledge could put lives at risk it was reported that the UK Government's transport secretary Phillip Hammond was set to alter plans, potentially keeping more stations open.

MP for Great Yarmouth Brandon Lewis said he was keen to retain the Yarmouth station and during the consultation had made the case to maintain it, despite broadly supporting the agency plans.

'It's a bit early to say at the moment, but there are indications that more stations will stay open than was planned and certainly gives us hope. With the area we've got, with the amount of traffic we've got, keeping the centre there would be good news, and as well as everything else it's keeping jobs in Yarmouth.'

Described as leading to a more efficient and modern service, the scheme was planned to save �210m over the next 25 years, with �20m saved by the end of this Parliament. It would have resulted in just four stations being manned 24 hours a day.

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The news follows on from a range of consultation meetings across the country over the proposals, which has now been extended with a decision expected by July.

The Department of Transport said: 'We will not comment on speculation about the outcome of our consultation. This is a genuine consultation exercise and the Government is committed to taking all points of view into account before deciding how best to proceed.'