Coastguard cuts could spell danger for Exmouth

Coastguard cuts could put Exmouth’s water users in danger and leave a 288-mile stretch of coastline without a single station.

The warning came from angry town councillors on Monday after hearing that the Government was having a second stab at cutting costs at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Whitehall chiefs want to close stations at Brixham in Devon and Portland, Dorset, saving �7.5m a year by 2014.

But, at the general purposes committee, councillors said it would leave a 288-mile stretch of coastline, from Dover in Kent to Falmouth in Cornwall, without a single coastguard station.

Chairman Pauline Stott said: “That is a long way.

“Our lifeboats are one of the busiest in the county and a few seconds can save a life.”

Cllr Richard Turner, who was in the Royal Navy, said: “Falmouth and Dover are fine for deep water, but what about further inland? A computer is no compensation for local knowledge.”

Most Read

Cllr Steve Gazzard said: “The Government just haven’t been listening. Volunteers, like the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI), cannot replace professionals with equipment such as helicopters.”

Cllr Bill Nash, former manager of Exmouth NCI for eight years, said: “If we had to choose one, Portland should remain open.

“That would give Exmouth greater land cover for things like cliff rescues.

“It just seems unfair to burden the other emergency services with what could be a risk to people’s lives.”

Cllr Eileen Wragg said: “We should ask to keep Brixham and Portland open. At least then there is a chance, if we ask for both, one will not close.”