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Coastguards campaign to save Swansea coastguard station
Dave Warren (PCS South West Wales)
Over 200 people packed into Oystermouth primary school, Swansea on Friday evening (22 July) to hear coastguards and local campaigners make the case for saving Swansea coastguard station.
The original government proposal was to close Milford Haven station and downgrade Swansea to a daylight hours only service. Now the Con-Dem coalition has done a U-turn and proposes to close Swansea, the busiest coastguard station in Wales, although Milford Haven has had a reprieve.
The ludicrous excuse put forward to close Swansea was that the department for transport already employs a large number of people in the area. It is true that around 5,000 people work at the DVLA (vehicle licensing) in Swansea but multi-talented as they may be, it is unlikely that DVLA workers will be rescuing people around the South Wales coast in the foreseeable future! For that we need the well trained, well motivated staff currently working at the coastguard station.
It is ironic that the DVLA management have issued instructions that the petition to save the coastguard station must not be circulated in the workplace despite the fact that a consultation is in progress and the petition is circulating in workplaces and shops all over Swansea.
The public consultation (closing on 6 October) tries to steer respondents into choosing between Swansea and Milford Haven, but this divisive tactic must be resisted at all costs.
In an emergency situation, every minute counts and local knowledge is essential to keep response times to a minimum.
Very often, the people finding themselves in danger are holiday makers who are not familiar with local geography and find it difficult to explain exactly where they are.
Sometimes the names of small coves or headlands, etc, are not found on maps. That is why local services are needed, not only in Swansea but in Milford Haven and all over the UK.
The meeting on Friday night formed a campaign committee, which will be very active in opposing this dreadful proposal over the coming weeks and the coastguards trade union, the PCS, will be to the forefront of that campaign.
This cut to the coastguard service will kill and the campaign to stop it happening is gathering force. The storms that sweep over Swansea bay will be nothing to the storm of protest that will be directed against the secretary of state for transport and the Maritime and Coastguards Agency unless they drop this proposal.
The Socialist Party urges everyone to sign the on-line petition at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-swansea-coastguard.html and respond to the consultation on the Department for Transport web site.