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Coastguard base rumour dismissed

PUBLISHED: 09:58 28 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:47 03 July 2010

SPECULATION that Great Yarmouth's coastguard rescue centre will be shut down was dismissed last night by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Yesterday's strong denial that the control room at Havenbridge House, which organises rescues from Humber to Southwold, may close followed a report in a national newspaper at the weekend.

SPECULATION that Great Yarmouth's coastguard rescue centre will be shut down was dismissed last night by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Yesterday's strong denial that the control room at Havenbridge House, which organises rescues from Humber to Southwold, may close followed a report in a national newspaper at the weekend.

The article in the Mail on Sunday claimed that Yarmouth's regional rescue centre, one of 19 in the country, was not fit for purpose and could be axed to help the Maritime and Coastguard Agency(MCA) foot the bill for new pay rises.

For the last two years the MCA and the Public and Commercial Services union(PCS) have locked horns over the current low level of pay for some control room staff - with the lowest grades being paid just above the minimum wage.

The report quoted an apparent MCA source who said that if pay rises are eventually approved then Havenbridge House, which has 20 staff, and the Forth rescue co-ordination centre in Fife, Scotland, could close to help fund the wage increase.

It is hoped that the pay talks could be resolved in the next few months.

A senior spokesman for the MCA said he was totally unaware of any plans to close the offices and that were both fit for purpose. He claimed that the source quoted may be a union official stirring up trouble before the next round of pay talks.

He said: “We absolutely deny those suggestions. It is a not a statement we recognise and support.

“The MCA is keen to resolve the pay dispute and continues to work with the unions to find a way forward.”

Last spring and summer staff from Havenbridge House joined hundreds of others across the country on a series of strikes - the first ever in the coastguard's history.

The strikes and other industrial action were launched because the PCS said the MCA had not implemented 2006 pay guidelines to bring wages in line with other emergency workers.

In the Yarmouth control room, which is responsible for 10,500 sq miles of sea and 188 miles of riverways, a watch officer with more than 10 year's experience earns about £18,900 a year.

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