CLYDE coastguard campaigners have made last-ditch pleas against the closure of the vital Greenock station.

Under controversial UK Government 'modernisation' plans, it will close with the loss of 31 jobs, with River Clyde rescues run from Northern Ireland instead.

But river users, angry staff, union leaders and politicians are all worried that a loss of local knowledge could cost lives.

A consultation on the proposed closure ended yesterday, and campaigners now hope that the pressure they have kept on the government will pay-off.

A petition against the closure is being submitted to ministers, and local MSP Stuart McMillan yesterday submitted his formal response to the consultation.

The SNP's Mr McMillan has met under-threat employees on several occasions during the campaign, as well as attending public meetings and speaking at the recent rally held in Greenock.

He said: "Local knowledge and understanding are vital when dealing with emergency situations. "With half of Scotland's marinas in the Clyde Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre area, numerous ferry routes, as well as the UK Government's nuclear arsenal, it's vital we retain a fully functioning Clyde MRCC.

"To remove a committed and fully functioning coastguard service with expert local knowledge would leave a void that could not be filled by an over stretched centre in Belfast. "The UK Government proposals would see the largest coastguard area handed over to a base in Belfast that is currently responsible for one of the smallest.

"As I have continually argued, it's vital we retain MRCC Clyde in Greenock in-order to reassure the public in the West of Scotland that safety is of paramount importance rather than what we are currently witnessing which is a cost cutting exercise from the Tory/Lib Dem UK Government.

"I will never argue for the closure of any of the coastguard stations. "I have been heartened by the attitude of the men and women of MRCC Clyde who deliver this valuable service. I " hope the UK Government see sense and retain the Clyde base to save lives."