17 February 2012
In November, the centre’s future was put in danger as the government disregarded a high-profile campaign, to confirm the closure of the Swansea coastguard station in March 2015, along with seven other stations around the UK
I’m looking after a small team of coastguards that co-ordinate any search and rescue within the area of the Bristol Channel. We do four 12-hour shifts – at the moment it’s two days then two night shifts – and it’s quite full-on.
We monitor the global maritime distress safety system, the satellite systems, the VHF radio for ships and vessels, then there’s the 999 calls and responding to any Maydays and calls for help.
There is still hope that the station will be saved and meetings have been arranged but we are all very concerned. I have two children and already struggle with the day-to-day costs such as childcare – we are into the third year of a pay freeze. From the pensions calculator I worked out I would have to work seven years longer and would lose about £56,000 in total. I was born in Swansea and am happy living here but, if it does close, then I will probably have to move again.
If the government at all considered people’s lives they would certainly have kept Swansea open. But this is a politically strategic decision as opposed to a life-saving strategic decision with them saying Swansea has too many public sector jobs at the moment. We are one of the busiest coastguards stations in the UK and we all feel we are doing a good job here. We had 28 operational staff but we’re now down to just over 20 and at the moment there have been no redundancies – people have either been redeployed or have left.
I have taken part as a PCS branch secretary and it was amazing to get so many signatures – with more coming in on a weekly basis from shops, businesses and individuals. The campaign has shown the Westminster government that the people of South Wales and Swansea in particular are fed-up and are prepared to stand up for themselves. It has certainly restored our dignity.
The camaraderie from colleagues and the support from the public was incredible. It was also rewarding to speak in Westminster to a group of MPs and to just get our message across.
Sign the petition to save the station: gopetition.com/petitions/save-swansea-coastguard.html