The MP for the West Cornwall and Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives, Andrew George, today responded to a Government announcement on the future of search & rescue services. Mr George has expressed his disappointment at the Government’s announcement but has called for certainty and reassurance for the service going forward.
In a written statement the Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening MP, announced that the Government had today begun the process for securing a fully civilian contract for UK wide search & rescue provision. Mr George has registered his disappointment that the expertise and the excellent service provided by the RNAS Culdrose based 771 Squadron will be lost under the new arrangements. Mr George has called for the new civilian service to still operate from RNAS Culdrose to help provide the certainty and continuity that an effective search & rescue service requires.
Commenting Mr George said:
“Of course I am disappointed that the Government hasn’t chosen to completely reverse the decision of the last Government and award the search & rescue contract to the Ministry of Defence. After all, 771 Squadron has an impressive record and its search & rescue provides mutual benefits for both the public and service personnel.
“It would nevertheless make sense to continue running the service from Culdrose. Certainty and reassurance is what the service needs after such a period of dramatic change and uncertainty.
“However, we need to be sure that the contract doesn’t limit the service to just maritime search & rescue, but also has flexibility to be scrambled for casualty and medical evacuation, as is currently provided by the 771 Squadron. This is especially vital in darkness, when the Air Ambulance can’t operate.”