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Farron cautions against search and rescue decision

November 30, 2011 11:04 AM

TF KendalSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron today warned against premature plans to end Search and Rescue Services from RAF Boulmer in 2015, announced by the Transport Secretary.

RAF Boulmer's yellow Sea King helicopters carry out search and rescue across the North. A new batch of helicopters is needed to replace the old machines with faster and more modern ones, but a future contractor has not been finalised. Negotiations on a contract were halted in February 2011 when the preferred bidder, Soteria, discovered that the bid team had been compromised.

The Transport Secretary announced the decision to advertise the new contract on Monday. The new contract will propose that services from Prestwick just south of Glasgow, RAF Lossiemouth in the north of Scotland and RAF Leconfield near Hull will cover RAF Boulmer's current area.

Commenting, Tim said: "It's worrying that the Secretary has decided to withdraw from RAF Boulmer when we have no clear idea who will replace this vital service - or even if it will remain at RAF Boulmer. New contractors will have to supply search and rescue services for the whole of the U.K but for South Lakes communities, it's crucial that the services are built on local expertise.

"If you're out risking your life on the seas, or hiking in the Lakes, you need to know that the people back at Search and Rescue can respond quickly to protect your safety. I don't doubt the expertise of folks in other parts of the country - and I'm glad we're upgrading our helicopters - but our local communities need to know that they can trust Search and Rescue personnel to know the local area. Hasty plans to end contracts must not put people's safety at risk."