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Richard Drax calls on PM to 'intervene personally' in Portland helicopter fight
12:46pm Wednesday 30th January 2013 in Latest
Mr Drax asked a question during Prime Minister’s Questions at noon today.
Speaking before the House of Commons he said: “I’m sure the Prime Minister will join me in praising all those that work in the search and rescue service and I ask the Prime Minister to intervene personally in our battle to save the Portland search and rescue helicopter.
“And ask his minister to come down to Dorset and listen to those that work in this life-saving service - before it is cut.
“Repeated requests have so far been ignored, and I would have thought a visit would be at the least courteous and wise.”
David Cameron paid tribute to search and rescue crews and said he was sure that ministers would ‘listen carefully’ to what Mr Drax had said, but he gave no indication if a minister would go to Dorset.
He said: “The former transport Secretary of State and other ministers from the department have met with My Honourable Friend and I am sure they would have listened very carefully to what he said.
“As well as paying tribute to the coastguard it is a good opportunity to pay tribute to the search and rescue services across the country.
“Our reforms are aimed to improve average response times by 20 per cent – that is why we are going ahead with these reforms.
“But I’m sure the ministers will listen very carefully to what he has said.”
The Portland helicopter faces the axe in 2017 over budget cuts and a campaign including an online epetition and a paper petition are currently on-going to try and save the service.
If the petition gets 100,000 signatures then it is likely to spark a debate on the issue in the House of Commons.
The Portland coastguard Maritime Rescue and Co-ordination Centre on Weymouth harbourside is also under threat due to a restructuring of the coastguard aimed at modernising the service.
Mr Drax said that he was disappointed with the response from David Cameron as he had not replied to his request.
Mr Drax said: “It wasn’t - ‘of course we will help you’ – nothing of the sort.”
But Mr Drax said he would not be deterred and would continue to fight to save the helicopter and fight to get members of the government’s transport department to come down to Dorset to discuss the issues and concerns with life-savers.
He said: “I shall follow up my question with a letter to the minister and invite him to come down to Dorset.”
To sign the online petition visit epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/36619.
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