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Nick Harvey calls for answers on Chivenor search and rescue cuts

By NDJPeter  |  Posted: January 10, 2014

Chivenor
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A PRIVATE contractor has been urged to release more details into the decision to axe search and rescue services at RMB Chivenor.

In March last year, helicopter firm Bristow announced it would be re-deploying the Chivenor service to St Athan, near Cardiff, following the decision to privatise the service from April 2015.

Speaking at Parliament on Tuesday, North Devon MP Nick Harvey pressed for the firm to complete an investigation into the costs and viability of the decision to move the region’s service.

It comes nearly three months after the contractor agreed to look at the issue following a meeting with Mr Harvey and members of North Devon Council.

During the meeting, the company admitted it had taken the decision to move service without analysing the potential benefits of staying at the North Devon base.

Mr Harvey said he had been surprised following the revelation and it said was vital that the firm provided answers to residents’ concerns.

He said: “SAR Chivenor has been at the heart of the community for decades, so understandably there is great anxiety at seeing it go.

“Local people deserve to know exactly what the perceived advantage is from moving the base to St Athan.

“It’s quite surprising that Bristow didn’t undertake such analysis before making the decision. But having agreed to undertake the work retrospectively they must now come back with a robust analysis as soon as possible.”

The intervention was welcomed by North Devon Council leader Brian Greenslade, who said he was surprised the council had received no response since the meeting with Bristow.

A joint statement from Bristow Helicopters and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "We have offered to present an analysis of the incidents currently handled by the Chivenor helicopter and the response times under the new arrangements. We will make that information available to the council as soon as possible.

"Bristow and the MCA have been and remain open to engaging with the local council and the community on how the new service will operate in North Devon, and are due to discuss the new arrangements with our search-and-rescue operational partners in North Devon next week."

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