Brixham and Falmouth coastguard cuts 'not a done deal'

David Ellis, Mike Penning and Sarah Newton in Falmouth
Image caption In Falmouth, Mike Penning (centre) met with MP Sarah Newton and harbour commissioner David Ellis

A minister has said proposed cuts in the coastguard service are "not a done deal".

Under government proposals to cut the UK's stations from 18 to eight, Brixham in Devon will be shut and Falmouth in Cornwall will end 24-hour cover.

Protesters say the cuts mean a loss of important local knowledge.

But shipping minister Mike Penning, who met Falmouth coastguards on Wednesday, said he was there to listen but some change was necessary.

"The consultation is not a sham," he said.

"I am going to listen and I have not made up my mind."

The proposals would mean that Brixham's operations would move to a new centre in Portsmouth.

'Fantastic job'

The government says that modern technology means coastguard stations did not have to be close to rescues any more.

It is believed the move will save about £7.5m a year and see up to 250 job losses nationwide by 2014.

Mr Penning said: "As I have been going around the country the coastguards have told me they know there needs to be change. They know there needs to be closures."

He added that stations like Falmouth needed back-up if communications were lost.

"I will make sure we have a service that is as safe as possible, but at the moment it is not as safe as it should be because we do not have the sort of resilience that we need.

"Falmouth do a fantastic job co-ordinating international rescue.

"But if communications go down here in the South West there is no national centre to back it up."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites