Displaying items by tag: Shipping Minister
#COASTGUARD - The UK's shipping minister has confirmed that Northern Ireland will retain its only coastguard station, the News Letter reports.
Mike Penning made the survival of Bregenz House official at the House of Commons yesterday, marking the end of what has been a successful campaign by the station's supporters.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the control centre at Bangor was given a last-minute reprieve by the minister in July under revised proposals to streamline the UK's coastguard network.
Bregenz House will be one of eight stations set to remain following the cutbacks, and one of just three across the whole UK that will have 24-hour service.
However, concerns are still being expressed about the wider area that the Bangor station will now have to cover, with the coastguard workers' union calling for assurances that the "same level of service" will be preserved.
Bangor locals came face-to-face with officials from the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) over the proposals to close Northern Ireland's only full-time sea rescue base.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that MCA bosses were loudly heckled when they tried to offer justifications for the closure of the Bangor station.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the UK's network of coastguard centres will be scaled back to just three 24-hour stations and a handful of daytime-only centres for the whole of Britain and Northern Ireland.
Supporters of the station said they felt let down at the “bad deal” and “shabby” proposals presented by the MCA and Shipping Minister Mike Penning, who added Bangor to the closures list at the last minute.
BBC News reports that more than 100 people attended the meeting in Bangor on Thursday evening, including members of the public, MLAs, councillors and MPs.
Bill McFadyen, the MCA's regional director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, admitted at the meeting that he was not handed a copy of the proposals until after they had been finalised.
He added: "Of course we will still maintain a high level of service here in NI as we move forward in whatever direction comes out of the consultation."
The Belfast Telegraph has more in the story HERE.
Local people will voice their opposition to the proposed closure of Northern Ireland's only coastguard rescue base at a public meeting with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) next month, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
Supporters of the Bangor facility, which provides 24-hour cover for the NI coastline, have also demanded "concrete answers" from UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning, who is due to visit the country next week.
“If he comes here with a positive attitude and says the decision to target our Coastguard was wrong, that’s the outcome we’re hoping for," said Strangford MP Jim Shannon. “If not, then he’s got a fight on his hands. We will take this to Westminster if necessary."
MCA representatibes will meet Bangor MLAs and community leaders on 3 March at the Marine Court Hotel to discuss the proposals.
The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.
Northern Ireland’s only coastguard base was not originally among a list of those earmarked for closure, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
However the Bangor facility was added to the list after a "personal intervention" from UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning.
The minister has confirmed to the House of Commons that the original draft list of closures for streamlining the UK's coastguard service originally named Liverpool as the centre to be shut down.
Now the Bangor control centre is being pitted against Liverpool in the service shake-up as previously reported on Afloat.ie that will leave just three full-time coastguard stations across the UK.