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MP sets up new petition to save Portland Coastguard helicopter
A NEW e-petition has been created in a renewed plea to save the axed Portland Coastguard helicopter.
South Dorset MP Richard Drax has created the new online petition because an existing petition with 18,000 signatures on has expired.
If the new petition gets 100,000 signatures then a debate will be forced in Parliament.
The previous petition, set up by Dorset County Hospital trauma doctor Ian Mew, attracted more than 18,000 signatures.
The government has emailed every person who signed the original to inform them of it.
There is still a year left for helicopter supporters to sign the replacement petition.
Dr Mew, consultant in anaesthetics and intensive care clinical director of major trauma at the Dorchester hospital, is urging people to sign it.
He said: “Richard Drax managed to convince the department that deals with the e-petitions to email everyone who had so far signed the old e-petition informing them of the new petition, but this could only be done if we closed the old petition down.
“Without the 100,000 signatures that are required to force the issue to be discussed in the Houses of Parliament, the old petition would, I’m afraid, have been worthless.
“We now have a year to really spread the word.
“We’re asking people to push the link to the new petition and let’s get the 100,000 signatures that we need.”
Mr Drax said residents, south coast MPs, medical professionals and lifesavers feel strongly against the helicopter base closing in 2018.
He said: “The closure has been decided without any consultation of local experts.
“This is not just a local issue. Dorset attracts 16 million visitors a year from all over the country.
“Recent, extreme weather events have shown that the helicopter is necessary inland and offshore.
“We urge the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State to reverse this decision before there is loss of life.”
The Portland Search and Rescue helicopter was recently called into action to airlift a six-year-old boy to hospital after he stopped breathing at Chesil Cove.
When Dorset was hit by severe flooding, a man and his daughter were rescued from their Land Rover after it became surrounded by water near Litton Cheney.
Alan McNamee and his 13-year-old daughter Gaby, who were airlifted to safety by the coastguard helicopter, backed the campaign to keep the helicopter on Portland.
Mr Drax wrote to the Transport Secretary asking for the helicopter to be saved after it was called out a record eight times in one day at the peak of the flooding.
The e-petition can be signed at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/36619 and the campaign to save the helicopter can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/saverescueheli.