A sea of cuts

THE country's coastguard can trace its origins back nearly two centuries. Concern over the loss of hundreds of lives in maritime tragedies, as well as threats to the country's economy and security through smuggling, were among the original drivers for the creation of a special force to serve this proud island nation.

Of course, its role has changed and become much more sophisticated over the years, particularly with the advent of modern communications, but this has not prevented the Maritime and Coastguard Agency from being the latest victim of the coalition's spending squeeze.

The Government's plans will leave just three 24-hour operational centres – one in Scotland and two on the south coast – and five sub-centres open during daylight hours only, including the busy Humber station.

No public service will remain untouched by the cuts but there must be serious doubts about these plans. Even Ministers admit that our seas are becoming more congested at the same time as more people enjoy our coastlines. As such, any changes must not be at the expense of safety.