Falmouth Coastguard Station could be facing radical changes after the new government’s budget cuts mean a modernisation to the whole of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Falmouth Coastguard Station has been in its current location on Pendennis Point, Falmouth since 1981. The station runs a 24/7 service where they are constantly working as a team with other coastguards around the country saving lives and making sure that the 660,000 square miles of water that they cover are safe all year round.
If the new proposals are put in place, the operating hours of the Coastguard Station would be reduced to the daytime. The result of this would be a loss of jobs; 17 of the 27 jobs would go over a period of four years. Falmouth is not the only station facing cuts. At the moment, the 19,491 miles of Britain’s coastline are being monitored by 19 stations; however, the idea is to reduce the number of stations operating from 19 to 8 at the expense of 227 jobs. An extra 2 stations would be built to co-ordinate rescue missions.
West Cornwall and St Ives MP Andrew George believes that the steps being taken by the government are only the beginning and in the future there will no longer be a Coastguard Station in Falmouth. The changes are making the county’s coastline more dangerous and with such a huge influx of tourists in the summer season, the safety of the public should be the main concern. Unfortunately, if the government’s budget cutting plans materialise, the health and safety of the public will be put at risk and pressure on other available coastguard stations will increase and the currently avoidable loss of lives will be inevitable.
The workers at the Coastguard Station work 12-hour shifts, with four days on and three days off. The shifts are split into two-day shifts followed by two-night shifts. The waters off the coast of Cornwall are some of the busiest around the country with many busy shipping lanes which need constant attention to make sure everything flows smoothly!
Richy Williams, one of the Coastguards spoke to me about the importance of their 24/7 work. He said ‘We are not only here for search and rescue; we have many more day-to-day jobs that are of great importance’. The way in which the team works together on each call that comes though shows the importance of having enough coastguards and any less could have grave consequences.
Headed by James Instance, the Falmouth Coastguards do a great deal of work towards the upkeep and safety of the waters off the Cornish coast. The constant high quality work which they perform on a day-to-day basis is invaluable and something which cannot be lost.
|Falmouth Maritime and Coastguard Acency Watchtower|
|Richy WIlliams at work|
|Richy observes his colleague working in the watchtower|
|Plotting bearings on the map|
|Richy takes down information on his computer whilst being on the radio|