Devon

Hope Cove sacked coastguards: Village vulnerable, say cliff-car rescuers

Richard Clarkson and Ian Pedrick
Image caption Richard Clarkson, left, and Ian Pedrick were sacked after "disregarding protocol"

Two coastguards, who were sacked for stopping a car going over a cliff, say the area is now at risk after their former station was shut down.

Ian Pedrick and Richard Clarkson lost their jobs after towing the car to safety with their own vehicle at Bolberry Down, Devon.

Their station at Hope Cove has temporarily closed and the pair said response times would now suffer.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the area remained "well resourced".

Mr Pedrick and Mr Clarkson originally responded to reports of a car going over a cliff near the seaside village of Hope Cove, on 20 June. On arrival, however, the vehicle was found to be empty.

The MCA said the pair should have cordoned off the area and called in appropriate recovery resources.

But they removed their coastguard uniforms and towed the car using Mr Clarkson's Land Rover.

Image caption The Hope Cove area is now being covered by neighbouring coastguard teams

The MCA said the recovery was "unsafe" and the duo "disregarded protocols".

"These actions breached our safe systems of work and placed the officers at risk unnecessarily," it said in a statement.

Mr Pedrick and Mr Clarkson, who have about 60 years' experience between them, lost their appeal against their dismissal.

Mr Pedrick said they want their positions back "so our station can be reopened".

"It's supposedly being covered by the neighbouring stations but it takes them 45 minutes to get here and it's really difficult terrain which they're not familiar with," he said.

Mr Clarkson added Hope Cove is now the "most vulnerable area" because it is "so tricky" to get to.

The MCA said there was no reduction in the quality of search and rescue provided for the Hope Cove area, which is "adequately covered by Bigbury and Prawle Coastguard Rescue Teams".

It added there was a full investigation into the incident.

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