100,000 people sign petition to save Portland Coastguard helicopter

LIFESAVER: The coastguard helicopter in action during the recent rescue of a woman who fell down cliffs at Blacknor Cliffs on Portland

CAMPAIGNER: Sandra West

PLEASED: Richard Drax MP

First published in News
Last updated
Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

CAMPAIGNERS are hoping for a reprieve for the threatened Portland Coastguard helicopter after raising a 100,000-strong petition calling for it to stay.

The petition, which will be delivered to the iconic black door of Number 10 Downing Street next Tuesday, calls on ministers to think again about the Portland-based lifesaving aircraft.

The coastguard helicopter base is due to close in 2017 as part of government cost-cutting plans.

Emergencies in Dorset will be attended by helicopters from Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire or from Cornwall.

The Department for Transport has said modern helicopters operating from fewer bases will provide a better service.

But opponents argue it is just a money saving exercise and claim that lives will be lost.

Government e-petitions containing more than 100,000 signatures can trigger a debate in the House of Commons.

Sandra West, one of the campaigners, said that everyone had worked very hard to get the 100,000 signatures and she hoped it would make the government rethink their plans.

She said it was ‘sheer madness’ to remove the helicopter from Portland.

She said: “We are just not going to let this go. We will fight it to the bitter end.”

Mrs West added: “Surely the government must look at this again and have a rethink about what’s going to happen.”

Campaigner Roger Macpherson said it was a remarkable achievement to get 100,000 signatures from a small area.

He said: “To get 100,000 signatures in this area is amazing.”

Mr Macpherson said the campaigners would like to give a big thank you to everyone who helped to collect the signatures and everyone who signed the petition.

He said: “All the hard work’s paid off. We got our target.”

Without the helicopter the campaigners believe there will be more fatalities, Mr Macpherson said.

He added: “If it was taken away it can never come back. The cost of reinstating it would be far greater than if we kept it on.”

South Dorset MP Richard Drax, pictured left, paid tribute to the hard work of the helicopter campaigners.

He said: “I would like to reiterate my thanks to all the campaigners, who have gone to considerable trouble and time to collect over 100,000 signatures. It’s a remarkable achievement.”

He added: “I hope at this last minute that the sheer volume of signatures will ring a bell in government circles, that the retention of Portland search and rescue helicopter is essential.”

Comments (13)

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7:30am Fri 25 Apr 14

portlanders says...

Ahhh so Sandra West has time to make a publicity statement but doesn't have time to answer her constituents emails or reply to telephone messages left. Move over Sandra and let candidates who truly want to help their constituents take council next month. DO NOT VOTE FOR SANDRA WEST she has no time for council meetings, and no time to reply to her constituents concerns, but us very quick to quote for the media on issues like this for publicity. She may say she hasn't be well...fair enough, but how come she is well enough to quote for the media, but not to return an email from a constituent, or reply to a telephone message??? If you are not well enough to do that then you shouldn't stand for council...simples.
Ahhh so Sandra West has time to make a publicity statement but doesn't have time to answer her constituents emails or reply to telephone messages left. Move over Sandra and let candidates who truly want to help their constituents take council next month. DO NOT VOTE FOR SANDRA WEST she has no time for council meetings, and no time to reply to her constituents concerns, but us very quick to quote for the media on issues like this for publicity. She may say she hasn't be well...fair enough, but how come she is well enough to quote for the media, but not to return an email from a constituent, or reply to a telephone message??? If you are not well enough to do that then you shouldn't stand for council...simples. portlanders
  • Score: -2

11:02am Fri 25 Apr 14

marabout says...

Emergencies in Dorset will be attended by helicopters from Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire or RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall


That is not true. Dorset Echo, please get the facts right. If this important petition is to be a success then we must get the basic facts correct.
Emergencies in Dorset will be attended by helicopters from Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire or RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall That is not true. Dorset Echo, please get the facts right. If this important petition is to be a success then we must get the basic facts correct. marabout
  • Score: 4

11:08am Fri 25 Apr 14

Laadeeda says...

The link below is from the .gov website and states where the future helicopter bases will be located.

Culdrose is out and Newquay airport is in.

Like a poster above said - 'get the basic facts right'

Took me a whole 2 seconds to locate the reference on Google. You'd think a journo could manage some accurate reporting from some sort of factual source!
The link below is from the .gov website and states where the future helicopter bases will be located. Culdrose is out and Newquay airport is in. Like a poster above said - 'get the basic facts right' Took me a whole 2 seconds to locate the reference on Google. You'd think a journo could manage some accurate reporting from some sort of factual source! Laadeeda
  • Score: 7

11:09am Fri 25 Apr 14

Laadeeda says...

Sorry - Forgot the link!!

https://www.gov.uk/g
overnment/news/futur
e-of-uk-helicopter-s
earch-and-rescue-agr
eed
Sorry - Forgot the link!! https://www.gov.uk/g overnment/news/futur e-of-uk-helicopter-s earch-and-rescue-agr eed Laadeeda
  • Score: 2

11:12am Fri 25 Apr 14

shy talk says...

“Emergencies in Dorset will be attended by helicopters from Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire or RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall.”

771 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) based at RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall will cease to give SAR coverage from 2017. Bristows who have the SAR contract will operate from a base in Newquay, Cornwall.
“Emergencies in Dorset will be attended by helicopters from Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire or RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall.” 771 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) based at RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall will cease to give SAR coverage from 2017. Bristows who have the SAR contract will operate from a base in Newquay, Cornwall. shy talk
  • Score: 4

12:35pm Fri 25 Apr 14

Houdini says...

Above are correct in saying 777 Naval Air Squadron at Culdrose, Cornwall will not be giving Search And Rescue service from 2017, or sooner. The private sector will be providing this service from a new base being built in Newquay, North Cornwall.

That means that there will only be one base on the whole of the very densely populated and popular South Coast of the UK, including the Channel Islands,, located at Lee On Solent. Two small carrying capacity helicopters will operate out of that base. Bearing in mind, that one of these, will be being maintained at most times, leaves us with one operational helicopter.

The two closest bases in either direction from the Solent, will be Newquay, North Cornwall and Manston, in Kent.
Above are correct in saying 777 Naval Air Squadron at Culdrose, Cornwall will not be giving Search And Rescue service from 2017, or sooner. The private sector will be providing this service from a new base being built in Newquay, North Cornwall. That means that there will only be one base on the whole of the very densely populated and popular South Coast of the UK, including the Channel Islands,, located at Lee On Solent. Two small carrying capacity helicopters will operate out of that base. Bearing in mind, that one of these, will be being maintained at most times, leaves us with one operational helicopter. The two closest bases in either direction from the Solent, will be Newquay, North Cornwall and Manston, in Kent. Houdini
  • Score: 4

2:25pm Fri 25 Apr 14

katieemcf says...

My family spend a huge amount of time and effort going all around dorset getting signatures for this petition after my uncle, david McFarlane passed away in a boating accident and the portland coastguard helicopter searched relentlessly for him. we collect a large amount of signatures and i am so proud to see how far this has come, lets hope it stays.
My family spend a huge amount of time and effort going all around dorset getting signatures for this petition after my uncle, david McFarlane passed away in a boating accident and the portland coastguard helicopter searched relentlessly for him. we collect a large amount of signatures and i am so proud to see how far this has come, lets hope it stays. katieemcf
  • Score: 8

4:04pm Fri 25 Apr 14

Jezebella says...

Surely the Olympics should have left us with some legacy? - and that legacy should be 'safe waters' (as safe as any water can be) around our coastline.
Surely the Olympics should have left us with some legacy? - and that legacy should be 'safe waters' (as safe as any water can be) around our coastline. Jezebella
  • Score: 6

5:04pm Fri 25 Apr 14

Houdini says...

Re comment about Sandra West.

I see Sandra involved in so many good causes, it's hard to keep up. The problem I find with the negative comment at the top of this column, is that it seems, your damned if you do and your damned if you don't get involved in local issues.

I personally admire the person who gets involved, no matter who it is. Rather that, then people who are supposed to represent us just paying lip service.
Re comment about Sandra West. I see Sandra involved in so many good causes, it's hard to keep up. The problem I find with the negative comment at the top of this column, is that it seems, your damned if you do and your damned if you don't get involved in local issues. I personally admire the person who gets involved, no matter who it is. Rather that, then people who are supposed to represent us just paying lip service. Houdini
  • Score: 3

8:41pm Fri 25 Apr 14

Dominic B says...

What has Sandra West has done to support this campaign.
Nothing !!. How many signatures did she obtain, none. Bring the issue to the publics attention, not until now.
Just another person trying to grab some of the limelight, how do they sleep at night, shameful.
I know and can honestly stand by the above comments.
What has Sandra West has done to support this campaign. Nothing !!. How many signatures did she obtain, none. Bring the issue to the publics attention, not until now. Just another person trying to grab some of the limelight, how do they sleep at night, shameful. I know and can honestly stand by the above comments. Dominic B
  • Score: -2

9:47pm Fri 25 Apr 14

Sigurd Hoeberth says...

two helicopters..over resourced?
two helicopters..over resourced? Sigurd Hoeberth
  • Score: 0

10:09pm Fri 25 Apr 14

woodsedge says...

This forum is over resourced by one idiot. I am surprised you are not insulting the SAR's crew and requesting that they 'die' as you have on another thread regarding our brave Fire Service? You really are a twisted nasty price of work. I thought Firemen would avoid your abusive language because they are FireMEN, we all know how you feel about men!
This forum is over resourced by one idiot. I am surprised you are not insulting the SAR's crew and requesting that they 'die' as you have on another thread regarding our brave Fire Service? You really are a twisted nasty price of work. I thought Firemen would avoid your abusive language because they are FireMEN, we all know how you feel about men! woodsedge
  • Score: 1

11:09pm Fri 25 Apr 14

Kimberlin1 says...

I don't usually respond to personal attacks on myself however Dominic B.You are wrong about my involvement with the helicopter campaign I have been with this since day 1 and have collected 1000's of signatures myself both on Portland, Weymouth and in ASDA . I have also attended meetings at the Portland Heights. I was also involved in the first campaign which was led by Jim Knight. I don't recall seeing you at any of them. The quotes from me in the Echo when done a while ago.If you would care to look at my FB page through my photos you will see what I have been doing.
I don't usually respond to personal attacks on myself however Dominic B.You are wrong about my involvement with the helicopter campaign I have been with this since day 1 and have collected 1000's of signatures myself both on Portland, Weymouth and in ASDA . I have also attended meetings at the Portland Heights. I was also involved in the first campaign which was led by Jim Knight. I don't recall seeing you at any of them. The quotes from me in the Echo when done a while ago.If you would care to look at my FB page through my photos you will see what I have been doing. Kimberlin1
  • Score: 5

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