Local MP Caroline Dinenage has welcomed the Department for Transport’s announcement that major Coastguard facilities will be based in South Hampshire, despite disappointment that the Daedalus site has missed out.
In a statement to the House today, the Minister for Transport Mike Penning announced that the new state of the art Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) is to be located at Kite’s Croft in Titchfield, which borders Caroline’s constituency. The Gosport area will also benefit directly as the Hill Head Coastguard Rescue Team and the training facility for Coastguard operations will be located on the Daedalus site.
The announcement follows a recent consultation exercise which confirmed the closure of the centre at Lee-on-the-Solent along with others nationally. The MOC at the old Fire Control Centre in Titchfield will then oversee 8 sub-centres across the UK. The new MOC will be open around the clock, 365 days per year and provide 96 jobs.
Now the Gosport MP is calling on the Government to confirm that existing Coastguard staff currently based at the Lee-on-the-Solent centre will keep their jobs in the move to Titchfield.
In the Chamber, Caroline said:
“Many of my constituents will be disappointed by the news that the Maritime Operations Centre will not be located on the Daedalus site. However, is he able to offer assurances that the highly skilled Coastguards currently based at Lee-on-the-Solent will not lose their jobs due to the move to Fareham?”
The Transport Minister responded to say:
“I thank my Hon. Friend for that very important question. We are committed to retaining the experience in existing control centres, and particularly in the Solent region. We have no intention of making any compulsory redundancies at the Lee-on-the-Solent centre and will work to ensure that as many jobs as possible are made available to them at the new site in Fareham”.
After the statement, Caroline added:
“While I welcomed the news that key Coastguard facilities will be based on the Daedalus site, I wanted to secure a commitment that my constituents would not lose out in the closure of the Lee-on-the-Solent centre. They have served the Coastguard for many years and represent a strong existing skills base, and I will continue to lobby the Minister to ensure that their jobs are secure at the new site in Fareham.”
The announcement follows a long campaign kicked off by Caroline as soon as she entered office to stress the region's maritime heritage and the extensive base of skilled workers in the sector. 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 to secure the best outcome for the area.