Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union have commissioned new architectural plans that could save the Liverpool Coastguard station.
The Maritime and Coastguard agency (MCA) set out proposals in December 2010 for a networked national station to run the UK Maritime Search and Rescue service. In July 2011, the Government proposed the conversion of a Government building on the South coast (Southampton/Plymouth) to establish one Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) station which would be supported by nine Maritime Rescue Sub-centres (MRSC’s) around the UK.
PCS members have put together a proposal to locate the national MOC station at Liverpool, at a cost of just £900,000 rather than on the South coast which, as a conversion, would cost considerably more.
Architectural plans have been presented to myself and other Merseyside MPs. Local architect Gavyn Lloyd of Jakesville Studio visited the station at Crosby and quickly realised that the site was vastly under-utilised. It has been proposed that with an extension, the existing building could easily be converted to the MOC at a fraction of the cost of a new build or conversion from another non-maritime building, as the technology and infrastructure is already in place.
PCS member at Liverpool are hopeful that this will help to tip the balance in their favour as the consultation period to decide the fate of the station at Crosby comes to an end this month.
The present system for coastguard operations does not in my opinion need to change, however, due to political and European pressures the UK has to establish one Maritime Operations Centre. Our proposal to locate it at Liverpool where there is a suitable building for conversion is a realistic and frugal option for Government to consider, instead of leaving the building underutilised.
Last month I challenged Phillip Hammond in the House to reveal what criteria the government were looking for when selecting the site of the new MOC. He was evasive to say the least, which doesn't feel me with the greatest of confidence. The Crosby site makes most sense, not least because of its geographical position, but also because of how cost-effective it is. At a time when the government is hauling back spending, they should be giving greater consideration to the chepaest, most viable site, and conclude that the MOC should be based in Liverpool.