Maritime and Coastguard agency plans to axe South Shields base

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The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is driving forward with plans to close its South Shields base in the next year as part of a services shake-up.

The sea safety inspection organisation is set to slash its number of offices nationwide from 14 to 10 – with the South Shields site at Tyne Dock among those sites facing the axe.

The Donald Duckling still alongside McNulty Quay

The Donald Duckling still alongside McNulty Quay

The MCA site in South Shields employs 19 members of staff, including surveyors, administrators and ensign unit staff.

The closure – due to take place in 2017 – will not be rubber-stamped until a consultation process is completed on April 21.

The MCA says the downsize was put into motion due to difficulties in recruiting and retaining surveyors.

This has led its level of service to ‘deteriorate’ for several years and hastened efforts to develop a new business plan.

The MCA says ‘no final decisions’ over office closures will be made until the consultation process has been completed.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) uses its base in South Shields to inspect boats and carry out fishing surveys.

The agency was involved in detaining the Donald Duckling cargo ship after it failed a safety inspection in 2014.

An MCA spokesman said: “No final decisions on closures have been made and will not be made until the consultation is complete and responses analysed.

“The MCA is committed to ensuring it delivers the services and support our customers need as efficiently and effectively as possible.

To view the proposals, visit www.gov.uk/mca#consultations