Yarmouth coastguard battle taken to minister

A petition calling for Great Yarmouth coastguard station to be saved from government cuts has been handed over to transport minister Mike Penning.

Norfolk County Councillor Paul Rice, who has been leading a countywide campaign, handed over the 1,000-signature document at Yarmouth railway station with the pledge: 'We have not given up the fight.'

The total, which included support from emergency service staff and key port businesses, was achieved despite launching the campaign only a month before public consultation finished on October 6. A government e-petition which is still active has so far reached 141 signatures.

Mr Rice, whose council division includes a wide area of the Broads presently covered by Yarmouth coastguards, highlighted the fact there have been four deaths on the inland waterways so far this year. He also flagged up the expanding port activities in Yarmouth and Lowestoft, related to windfarm developments, and tanker-to-tanker oil transfers off Southwold.

The independent lifeboats at Caister and Hemsby and other bodies, including the Broads Authority and Broads Hire Boat Federation, have voiced concerns at the loss of local knowledge and the possible difficulties of relying on coastguards based in Bridlington, Dover or the Solent.

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Mr Rice said he had suggested to the minister that a new coastguard base could be incorporated at Yarmouth port, sharing facilities with immigration and customs staff who would be needed as EastPort became busier. He said he would also be seeking to put forward a motion at county council calling for the plans to be revised or reversed.

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