A c ampaign lost

November 28 th, 2011

Better to have campaigned and lost, than never to have campaigned at all.

But the decision by the UK Government this week to close the coastguard centre was a sad one for Inverclyde, and one that I hope the Shipping Minister Mike Penning does not come to regret.

For many people, it took for the threat of closure before they realised the important work, and indeed the wide range of work, that our coastguards do.

Those workers at the Clyde Coastguard Centre, proud of the work they do, the knowledge and skills they have acquired and lives they have saved, have approached this adversity with great dignity.

They put forward a compelling and forensic case for the retention of the Clyde Coastguard, exposing the myths and the political posturing at the heart of this decision.

It was a campaign that united political parties and communities, working across rivalries and boundaries to take on this serious threat.

Sadly, it was in vain, as confirmed this week.

We know move on a difficult stage, one of vigilance, where we monitor this new system that insists it can keep safe the longest coastline in the UK remotely from Belfast.

I remain to be convinced, as do the experts at the Clyde Coastguard centre that this is unachievable, and the necessary stress tests have been carried out.

I take no satisfaction from saying I was right when I said this was a sham consultation and that the UK Government were intent on forcing through this cost-cutting exercise.

I only hope they are proved right and a health or environmental disaster is not a consequence of this decision.

If this gamble does not pay off, there will be serious repercussion for those who put cost-cutting over safety.