Published: September 13, 2011
Burnham's MP expresses fears about Swansea Coastguard plans

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has this week expressed concerns about government plans to close Swansea Coastguard station - which oversees rescues along Burnham's coastline.

MP Tessa Munt raised her fears during a debate about the proposed closure in the House of Commons on Monday evening (September 12th) attended by Minister Michael Penning, who is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport.

Tessa told him: "I want to draw the Minister’s attention to my constituency, where we have Brean, which is a holiday destination, Berrow, and Burnham-On-Sea. Burnham is unique - it has peculiar tides and very swift and difficult changes on the mudflats, where any number of people and vehicles will become stranded over the summer."

"I have visited the volunteers who make up the local crews for Burnham Coastguard and the Burnham Area Rescue Boat (BARB)."

"They have such a hard job to do, and they are very alarmed, as are local people, about the closure of Swansea, which would leave us in Somerset looking to Milford Haven, which is 60 miles to the west."

Her comments come after a review was announced by the government earlier this year, when the Swansea station was earmarked to close by 2015.

There are fears this could put lives at risk in the Burnham-On-Sea area since the station is responsible for co-ordinating searches and rescues at sea, on cliffs and on beaches.

However, Burnham Coastguard Officer Steve Bird told "We have not issued any comments regarding the proposals for Swansea Coastguard Station."

Speaking during Monday's debate, Labour MP Martin Carton said: "In the original consultation document on the reform plans, it was proposed to retain Swansea coastguard, albeit on a daylight hours basis, and close Milford Haven. Then, in July, the Secretary of State for Transport reversed that recommendation in his statement on coastguard modernisation. I do not know whether the Minister has any idea of the alarm and outrage that have been aroused in the Swansea area and spread around the south Wales coast and down the other side of the Bristol channel as a result of the statement."

Minister MP Michael Penning responded: "I have to emphasise to the public that these are co-ordination centres, not the places where the people who physically carry out the rescues are based. I think there has been some confusion about that around the country. The volunteers are certainly not touched by this; in fact, their roles will be enhanced and there will be more equipment and more people to facilitate the work that they do."


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