Nia Griffith MP for Llanelli and Shadow Wales Minister has written to the Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb MP to urge him to intervene to save the Dyfed Powys Police Helicopter base at Pembrey. The state of the art helicopter hangar, built recently at a cost of £1.5 million is facing closure, following a decision by the National Police Air Service, to reduce the number of police helicopter bases from 34, not just down as initially planned to 22, but down even further to 15.
Nia Griffith sent the letter after visiting the base together with Llanelli’s AM Keith Davies and Marc Tierney, Labour candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembs in next year’s Assembly elections.
Nia Griffith MP explained
“I am calling on the Secretary of State to ensure that Wales does not lose out. We as taxpayers in West Wales contribute to the funding of Dyfed Powys Police who will be paying into the National Police Air Service for a helicopter service which will not even have a base here. The other two police helicopters in Wales, based respectively at Hawarden in North Wales and St Athan near Cardiff, are already being called upon to back up services into England. We may not have a large population, but we do have a lot of terrain which is difficult to cover quickly any way other than by air, as well as a significant influx of tourists, who come to enjoy the coast and the mountains – areas where an enjoyable day out can quickly turn into a tragedy.”
Marc Tierney, Assembly Candidate said,
“The additional national security requirement for Haven waterway, with its high concentration of oil and gas installations, is, in itself, strong justification for the retention of a police helicopter service. I wrote to the Police and Crime Commissioner earlier this year and got his assurances that port security had been stepped up in line with the UK terror threat. Local air support is vital to maintaining our security.
“With the RAF helicopter service now privatised and cuts in the local coastguard service, reducing the police helicopter bases from 34 to 15 is a cut too far. Dyfed Powys Police have a long and treacherous coastline to cover and difficult inland terrain. The Police helicopter can save the ground forces very considerable time and effort and if the new system is introduced west Wales and Pembrokeshire in particular will suffer most.”
Keith Davies AM added,
“Local knowledge is vital – it is bad enough expecting a national call centre in England to cope with Welsh place names, and but with no base in West Wales, helicopters will have to travel further and pilots will have to deal with unfamiliar territory which is bound to cause delays and possibly confusion, which ultimately could cost lives.”