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‘Suspension of search and rescue privatisation gives us opportunity to look again’ - Farron

January 31, 2011 5:22 PM

Tim Farron with Andy Dell of Kendal Mountain RescueSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has called on the government to look again at plans, drawn up by the previous Labour government, to privatise the RAF Search and Rescue service following their suspension last week.

In order to replace the aging RAF Sea King helicopters, the Labour government insisted that the service be privatised in a move that would lead to the base closest to the Lake District - RAF Boulmer - becoming part time.

Last week, Channel 4 News reported that the privatisation had been suspended after it was found that officials at the MoD had passed sensitive information onto the winning bidder, a consortium of Thales and CHC Helicopter.

Tim has raised concerns on numerous occasions about the privatisation, and the impact it would have on search and rescue cover for the Lake District. The closest RAF base to the Lake District (RAF Boulmer) would be unmanned overnight, forcing the emergency services and local mountain rescue teams to rely on services from further afield in emergencies. For example, during the floods at Cockermouth in 2009 there were three Sea Kings in attendance - this number of helicopters would not be available to the Lake District at night under the new plans.

Speaking today, Tim said; "The suspension of the contract is the perfect opportunity for the government to rethink their stance on this issue. It's a disgrace that our local emergency services and mountain rescue teams will have to rely on a service that is so far away from the South Lakes under the plans drawn up by the previous Labour government."