HC Deb 19 March 1998 vol 308 cc695-6W
Mrs. Dunwoody

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 4 March 1998,Official Report, columns 643–45, on coastguard stations, for what reasons watch levels at (i) Aberdeen and (ii) Stornoway coastguard stations have been persistently below assessed levels; and what measures he has put in place to address the problem. [34753]

Ms Glenda Jackson

[holding answer 18 March 1998]: The watch levels set out in "Focus for Change" are suggested and are not therefore prescriptive. Watch complements which fall below the suggested levels through staff vacancies and unplanned absences are allowed to prevail subject to operational risk assessment by local management. Risk assessment are kept under review and contingency arrangements are in place at co-ordination centres should the need arise to increase watch levels. Both stations have been in the process of recruiting staff. At Aberdeen new Coastguard Watch Assistants (CWAs) are currently being trained; at Stornoway two serving CWAs have been selected for promotion to Watch Officer and the resultant CWA posts will be filled through local recruitment. These measures will address vacancy issues at these stations.