UNION chiefs say the impressive response of coastguards to recent extreme weather conditions shows that plans to axe several stations should be scrapped.

Walton’s coastguard station is one of those set to close in 2015 as part of a huge cost-cutting scheme by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The lost stations will be replaced with a centralised service to save £20million.

But union bosses say the move would mean the loss of local knowledge and put lives and risk.

And they say the coastguards’ response to the recent harsh weather provides the perfect example why the stations should be kept open.

Walton-based coastguards have been kept busy by December’s tidal surge, as well as the strong winds and heavy rainfall which have battered the coast since then.

Public and Commercial Services Union secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The response to the storms shows just how invaluable the local knowledge and expertise of coastguard staff are to our coastal communities.

“Ministers must put an immediate halt to their station closure plans that we continue to believe will put lives at risk.”

Walton’s station will be forced to close its doors in June 2015.