MP calls for new Fylde coast rescue vehicles

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has called for new vehicles for Fylde’s Coastguard officers.

Mr Menzies wrote to the chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and to the Department for Transport, to ask for funding for new all-terrain vehicles to be used between Fleetwood and Preston.

He said: “Following the tragic deaths of brothers Muhammad Azhar Shabbir and Ali Athar Shabbir earlier this month, I spoke to the Coastguard to thank them for their efforts in the search. I know they did everything they could to find these poor young men. It was a terrible tragedy; no-one should come to the coast and lose precious family members.

“Coastguard Station Officer Paul Little told me they operate across this huge area, 40 miles long and sometimes three miles wide, with just one vehicle.

“He said a business case had been made for an all-terrain vehicle, but it was still being looked into.

“I have now written to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and to the Secretary of State for Transport to ask that funding is made available to purchase two ATVs. These vehicles would cover beaches at St Annes and all of Blackpool – it is vital we get them.

“The Coastguard must have the equipment they need to get to people as quickly as possible – especially here on one of the busiest stretches of coastline in the country. The vehicle they are currently using is eight years old and has needed thousands of pounds spent on it this year already.”

The St Annes Coastguard Station looks after the area from Norbreck Castle in North Blackpool down to the docks in Preston.

The Coastguard team has been called out more than 180 times this year already – and on two recent occasions were called out nine times in a day.

Mr Menzies added: “We are seeing more people visiting our coastline due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. We must invest in equipment for our Coastguard staff to help keep people safe, and to make sure officers have all of the equipment they need. It is not fair for them to only have one vehicle.”