Caroline Dinenage, local MP for Gosport, kept the pressure up on the Transport Minister during an announcement about proposed changes to Coastguard Coordination Centres today in the House of Commons.
In an urgent statement to the House, Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond, announced the Government’s intentions in taking forward the process of Coastguard modernisation in light of the recent consultation exercise that ended in May.
Among the proposals announced today the Secretary of State revealed that the station in Lee on the Solent would be replaced by a Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) in the Portsmouth/Southampton area which would oversee 8 sub-centres across the UK. The new MOC will be open around the clock, 365 days per year and provide 96 jobs.
The announcement is recognition both of the region's heritage and also the extensive base of skilled workers in the maritime arena, and follows a long and committed campaign that kicked off as soon as Caroline entered office. Transport Minister Mike Penning visited the MCA site and Coastguard Centre last summer and since then Caroline has relentlessly kept up the pressure with her Ministerial colleagues in Westminster.
In response to this announcement, Caroline said;
“I welcome the news that a Centre will remain in the Solent area – which is one of the busiest sea-lanes in the world. However I would very strongly encourage the Secretary of State to locate this Centre in Lee on the Solent where we already have the expertise and vast local knowledge of experienced Coastguard Staff. The site is ideally located between Portsmouth and Southampton and the MCA already own a big part of the Daedalus Airfield there, meaning it makes good financial sense too.”