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February 10, 2009 5:25 PM

A campaign led by Councillor Ian Stewart and MP Tim Farron to bring back Arnside's rescue boat after it was removed last year by the coast guard, has achieved a major success after Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick agreed to hold an investigation into the boat's removal.

Before Christmas, Tim Farron presented a petition containing signatures collected by Cllr Ian Stewart, calling for the return of the Arnside Coastguard, to the Transport Minster Jim Fitzpatrick MP.

In the wake of the support generated by this campaign, Mr Fitzpatrick has now agreed to hold an internal inquiry later this month into the removal of the boat in which Mr Farron will be used as a key witness.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"Five years on from the cockling tragedy on Morecambe Bay, it is unacceptable that the Coast Guard managers are taking risks with people's lives by removing our rescue boat.

"Last week's anniversary of the Morecambe Bay tragedy was a timely reminder that the tides on Morecambe Bay and in particular the Kent estuary are some of the most dangerous in the UK.

"If we want to avoid a repeat of the 2004 tragedy, it is essential that we keep hold of the vital local expertise which the Arnside Coastguard provides.

"It's wholly unacceptable that the lessons from the Morecambe tragedy still haven't been learnt and that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency believe they can remove the coastguard without any indication of when it will be back, or if it will even return to Arnside.

"Ian Stewart has worked really hard in his bid to bring back a rescue boat, and its very encouraging news that we now have this inquiry - but I won't rest until a boat is returned."