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Rescue Services: Hope Cove

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 10 February 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what maritime risks the capability review team took into account in deciding that the Hope Cove lifeboat should be permanently decommissioned. (316766)

The maritime risks considered by the review team cover the broad categories of incidents at sea, on the beach, cliff, coastal path and in a tidal river. No decisions have been taken, or will be taken, about the future of the general purpose boat based at Hope Cove until after the current consultation exercise about the search and rescue provision in the southern part of the South West Peninsula.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport who was consulted on (a) the drafting of clause 42 of the Hope Cove lifeboat consultation document and (b) the future of the Hope Cove lifeboat; and how many visits to the Hope Cove consultation website have been recorded since its creation. (316767)

There is no clause 42 within the consultation document. However paragraph 4.2 and its view on the future of the Hope Cove general purpose boat was developed by the collective local, regional and national HM Coastguard management with many years experience of assessing and providing Search and Rescue services.

The latest statistics available to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency show that as at 8 February 2010 the consultation web page had been viewed 172 times.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the cost to the public purse was of running the Hope Cove lifeboat since 1992. (316768)

Officials at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have been asked to compile the requested data. The process involves reconciling a number of different data sources to provide the information requested in a helpful form. As soon as that information is available it will be placed in the Libraries of the House. It should be noted that, as per best practice, the MCA keeps financial records only for the previous six financial years so therefore will not be able to provide information prior to financial year 2004-05.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether the Hope Cove lifeboat crew was consulted on its new equipment before that equipment was issued. (316769)

In line with standard Maritime and Coastguard Agency procedures, the Hope Cove General Purpose Boat Crew members were not consulted prior to their personal protective equipment being replaced.

To reflect the operating restrictions placed on the boat, helmets were changed to offer additional head protection in a “man overboard” situation and lifejackets were changed to those of an approved standard suitable for use on general purpose boats.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether the Marine and Coastguard Agency would continue to task the Hope Cove lifeboat in circumstances in which it were privately run; and if he will take steps to ensure that the Hope Cove lifeboat is back in service by 1 March 2010. (316773)

From the matrix of assets that are fit for purpose and available, Her Majesty's Coastguard will task the most appropriate declared search and rescue resource to deal with the given circumstances of a maritime incident. It is the view of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) that the resources available for search and rescue in the southern part of the South West Peninsula are sufficient to address the known maritime risks for that location, without the need for an additional boat at Hope Cove, whether or not that they were privately run. However, this is the subject of a consultation exercise at this time and no decisions about the future of the general purpose boat at Hope Cove will be taken until the consultation period is complete.

In the interim, the existing Coastguard General Purpose boat based at Hope Cove, which is not a primary search and rescue asset, will be available within the terms of its restricted operation, imposed to protect its crew, from the beginning of April.