Concern over Great Yarmouth coastguard station closure

MCA operations room Ten operations centres would shut under the proposals

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Critics of plans to close a coastguard station employing 36 people in Norfolk have spoken out at a public meeting.

Great Yarmouth station looks after incidents off Norfolk and Suffolk. It would be one of 10 Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) centres to go.

Three would remain around the UK and five others would only operate during daylight hours, saving £7.5m a year.

Some of the 20 people at the meeting raised concerns that technology could not adequately replace local knowledge.

Richard Card, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association, said: "I'm worried whether the new system will be able to replicate the local knowledge that currently exists.

"It's very much based on electronic wizardry which can break down and hasn't been tested yet."

'Mind at rest'

Paul Garrod, chairman of the Caister Lifeboat, said he was reassured by the meeting, organised by the MCA, that volunteer coastguard patrols that already exist would still be in place.

"It's put my mind at rest a little," he said. "The boys and girls actually patrolling the beaches will still be there, which I didn't realise."

The regional director of the MCA, Tom Elder, said: "We've listened, we've tried to explain our position and hopefully they'll go away and think about it a bit more and contribute to the consultation."

Chairman of the Great Yarmouth Port Users Association, Mike Gouldby, said as the MCA had already announced the lease on the coastguard building was due to end in 2013, it was a "foregone conclusion" that the base would close.

It is believed the move could see up to 250 job losses nationwide by 2014.

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