Flawed plan to scrap police helicopter must be halted
The Dyfed-Powys police helicopter (the X99) is a valued and fundamental asset to the police force and rescue services which operate across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire & Powys, and is invaluable in terms of its support to public safety in communities right across these regions.
Under current plans proposed by the National Police Air Service (NPAS), the service will move from a 23-base model, to a 15-base model, meaning that the Pembrey police helicopter base will be closed in January 2016.
William Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Mid & West Wales, is today leading a Short Debate in the Assembly Chamber to give AMs dedicated time to debate the issue involved and help raise the profile of the campaign to save the service. He will be calling on the Welsh Labour Government Minister for Public Services to put pressure on the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to safeguard the service.
Speaking ahead of this afternoon's debate, William Powell said:
"Over the period from 1st January this year to 8th June, a period of 23 weeks, the X99 made 78 flights which were directly related to investigating or preventing crime. This averages out to just over 3 flights a week. This demonstrates to me just how much the helicopter is used and valuable the service it provides is.
"In some ways, Welsh Ministers may say they have little power to change the course of events. But Welsh Ministers do have the significant power of influence, especially when combined with the backing of Welsh MPs and AMs representing the region. With increasing support - and a developing consensus on this issue - we can unite to see off this flawed plan and safeguard the X99 for the sake of all who live, work or visit Mid and West Wales.
"This also gets to the heart of what politics is all about; speaking out for local people, affecting change for their benefit and holding government to account."
Captain Winston Thomas, who owns and manages Pembrey airport, recently commented:
"The police helicopter is not only used for standard policing practice and support, but also alongside the South West Air Ambulance in medical evacuation cases. In this sense, not only would the move away from Pembrey see the area lose a police helicopter, but the air ambulance would also lose a very close operational partner to assist in emergencies."