Yarmouth coastguard calls to be handled in Humberside

Great Yarmouth coastguard station is to close, with all emergency calls to the service being dealt with by staff 150 miles away in Humberside instead.

The decision was announced in Parliament by shipping minister Mike Penning yesterday afternoon.

And people who had fought to keep the station open to keep local knowledge in the service have reacted with dismay.

Paul Rice, county councillor for South Smallburgh, is a former coastguard rescue officer. He said: 'I'm very disappointed with this decision. We've got increasing turbine traffic through the ports and I don't think anyone along this coast would condone the decision. We won't have local knowledge in the control room and the loss of that could cost lives.'

Peter Wheeler, union representative for Yarmouth coastguard, said: 'I can't say that I'm surprised, but I am disappointed.

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'We're worried that under the new system we won't be able to deliver the service people are accustomed to.'

Under plans, Humberside will operate a 24-hour station which will field calls from Great Yarmouth. Government sources say sophisticated technology will ensure staff can deal with calls away from the locality. And Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis says independent lifeboat services such as Caister and Hemsby will mean the region has both expert help from Humberside and local knowledge at hand.

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'We've got independent lifeboats and we will work with them, and there will be more professionals on the ground,' he said.

He added it was disappointing that local jobs would be lost, but there was no compulsory redundancy programme in place.

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