The Maritime & Coastguard Agency has undertaken a review of the way it carries out its surveys and inspections and recently consulted on the locations of its marine offices. It has also, with its staff, reviewed the way the organisation of those offices is structured.
As a result of both consultations, changes have been made to the original proposals including keeping two offices open that were originally marked for closure and identifying a senior experienced marine surveyor who will have over-arching responsibility for the River Thames.
The proposals save more than a third of a million pounds in terms of estate costs.
Belfast, Liverpool, Cardiff Aberdeen, Plymouth, Southampton, Beverley (Hull) and Glasgow Marine Offices will remain open and a new office will be opened in the Colchester/Ipswich area. These will form the main Marine Office hubs.
Dover, Falmouth and Milford Haven will be satellite bases attached to the main marine office hubs from where they will be managed – Southampton, Plymouth and Cardiff respectively.
The Tyne office will close along with Harwich, Norwich and Orpington.
These changes are part of a much larger transformation programme for its survey and inspection business to improve customer service and efficiency. The proposals, which have been approved by the Executive Board of the MCA, will save money with minimal impact on the MCA survey and inspection work force.
Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive said: ‘This programme marks an exciting moment for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The MCA’s marine surveyors are a vital part of our business and have built an outstanding reputation for their technical skills and professionalism. Yet the maritime world is changing, and we have to move with the times.
‘For example, we’ve had great difficulty in recruiting and retaining marine surveyors; and our customers are also - and rightly - demanding more responsive services that are fit for a competitive world market in the digital age. We need to address those things squarely. Modernising our approach, in terms of both the geographical location of our offices and the way our surveyors work, offers us a positive, efficient way forward.
‘We have consulted widely with our staff and external customers in coming to these decisions. The MCA is and remains committed to the highest standards in upholding maritime safety throughout our areas of responsibility: UK-wide and indeed globally. This transformation programme will greatly help us to achieve that.’
Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety and Standards and overseeing the plans for the Survey and Inspection Transformation Programme, said: ‘We understand that people might be worried about the future but we have assured both our surveyors and staff that we will continue to work with them as the change programme moves forward. People matter in this Agency and we are committed to making sure we continue to act with that in mind.’
‘We will work with all those staff affected on an individual basis, so we can help them with their transition plans.’
‘I am mindful that we face some testing times ahead. However with the support of our diverse and highly experienced workforce I very much look forward to leading the Directorate of Maritime Safety and Standards as it develops to deliver a service that ensures we meet the expectations of our stakeholders and allows staff to develop themselves.’