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MEP Ashley Fox visits threatened coastguard helicopter base on Portland
10:27am Monday 18th March 2013 in News
DORSET councillors highlighted the fight to save the Portland Coastguard Helicopter when a politician visited the threatened base.
Ashley Fox, MEP for the south west, paid a visit to the airbase with Dorset County Councillor Tim Munro and Weymouth and Portland Borough Councillors Ian Munro-Price and Ian Bruce.
Mr Fox said: "There is always a need to modernise the search and rescue service, but I do not believe that an upgrade in equipment should lead to a downgrade in the number of bases.
"Portland Search and Rescue has saved hundreds of lives and should be retained to protect our coasts into the future."
The facility on Portland is one of two in the country threatened with closure as the search and rescue service is re-structured. The other is RAF Boulmer in Northumberland.
Coun Munro said: "Dorset County Council is 100 per cent behind the campaign to retain this very important search and rescue facility at Portland.
"It is my belief that without this rapid response sailors and seafarers will be put in greater jeopardy."
Coun Bruce added: "I am even more convinced that we should not be halving the helicopter coverage in this, the busiest sector of the UK's coastline.
"It appears ministers are being told that putting modern helicopters in the stations somehow justifies taking our helicopter away."
Coun Price, who is the borough council's spokesperson for economic development, raised concerns over job losses.
He said: "In addition to the obvious safety concerns of removing the helicopter, such a move would take millions of pounds and many jobs out of our economy, as well as harming the growth and safety of our successful sailing and diving activities."