For the past six months, the people who police the shipping lanes, otherwise known as Holyhead Coastguard, have been working under the kind of absolute uncertainty that only people who’ve been told their jobs are going will know and understand. Their base, along with Milford Haven, was identified as one of the centres that could go with a reshuffle of the Coastguard services round Britain as new technology shapes the need for the job they do.
As jobs go, it’s a pretty stressful one. Let’s face it, you don’t normally call on the Coastguard for a nice chat. They’re there when things get a little bit critical.
But now – for the next couple of months at least – they have a positive uncertainty. Yesterday Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond said that what was announced at the start of the Coastguard consultation might not be the end result. They may keep more stations open.
Politically, I don’t know the difficulties of balancing the budgets. I do know that you only have to spend a few minutes on the waterfront in Holyhead – an incredibly interesting place – to hear just how the town identifies with its Coastguard. Protests have gathered over a hundred people in defence of keeping Holyhead on. You only have to look out to sea to see the ferries – and further on the other large traffic that meets up with the Mersey pilots on their way into what’s still one of Britain’s biggest ports.
Now, there’s a couple of months worth of waiting – an announcement’s expected just before Parliament breaks for the summer – before the locals will know just what’s going on.