THE station officer at Walton’s new coastguard headquarters has reassured concerned residents that the lifesaving organisation still has a presence in the town.

In 2015 the seaside town’s Thames Coastguard station in East Terrace closed down as a result of cuts designed to save the Maritime and Coastguard Agency money.

The base initially became a hub focusing on managing the coastguard volunteers operating along the Essex and Suffolk coast, but has been disused since the summer.

As of May, this year, the brave rescue team has been working from a brand-new station in Arthur Ransome Way near the new Marks & Spencer.

It won’t officially be opened until January next year, when an informal ceremony will celebrate the vital addition to the area, but it is operational.

Paul Tovell, who has been appointed as the new station officer, is hoping the launch of the new site will help to restore the public’s faith in their local coastguards.

He said: “I have recently been appointed station officer and I want to involve the community in Walton.

“When they see the boards going up and the ariels coming down at the old station they think the coastguard no longer exists in Walton – the community is concerned.

“But we are very much part of the community and I want us to do more patrols because the public and businesses want to see the coastguard out and about.

“The new station is still going through some refurbishment, but it is very much up and running.”

According to Mr Tovell, the new location is helping their ability to carry out their job as affectively as possible when they are called upon.

The former location on the seafront sometimes made it difficult for the coastguards to work efficiently, due to the influx in tourists during the summer months.

Mr Tovell said: “In the summertime, we used to struggle to get to the station and then get back out again quickly - so our response time has actually improved now.”

The volunteer sea team has also been taking part in extensive training, so they are now equipped with powers and capabilities beyond their previous remit.

Drone searches are also being introduced which will enhance the coastguards’ abilities to find someone, or something, as quickly as possible.

Mr Tovell said: “Coastguard presence has changed quite a lot in the area – we used to do First Aid, but that has now been beefed up and we can now do trauma care.

“We have also been trained to the same standards as police, so there has been lots of investment in searching and how to deal with people who are vulnerable.

“So, we can put airways in and give initial trauma care training is extensive and it is going to be extended.

“We are also looking at drone technology for searches, so lots is happening.”