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MP to refer decision to Ombudsman

The Conservative MP for South Dorset has referred the decision to close the Portland Search and Rescue helicopter to the Ombudsman.

Richard Drax said it was because the Department for Transport (DfT) had failed to consult over the plans.

The Government announced in March that operations will move out of Portland, Chivenor and Culdrose to a new base at Newquay Airport.

The service will be run by a private company, Bristow, which is based in the US.

While I understand that the Minister [Stephen Hammond MP] would like to consider the matter closed, it is by no means closed for the people of South Dorset and the millions who flock to our coastline every year.

We depend upon this helicopter. A quarter of all coastguard callouts every year take place within the reach of the Portland helicopter..."

– Richard Drax, Conservative MP, South Dorset


Anger over plans to cut South Dorset bus routes

Local residents say the loss of routes will leave the elderly isolated Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

More than one 150 angry bus users in Weymouth packed a meeting last night to argue about proposed changes to bus routes in South Dorset.

First Bus plans to stop routes 5, 5A and 4B from March 24. But local residents said the move would leave many elderly and infirm people isolated in their own homes. The bus operator blames tough economic times on the decision.

It also says that the money the company receives from the concessionary fare scheme is less than forty per cent of the actual journey price. Fuel rebate has also been reduced so it's been left with no option unless Dorset County Council steps in to subsidise these routes.

The meeting was called by South Dorset MP Richard Drax who had been contacted by many of his constituents unhappy with the decision to axe routes.

Scrapping of search & rescue helicopter questioned

The Portland helicopter is due to be scrapped in 2018 Credit: ITV Westcountry

The MP for South Dorset has again called on a government minister to visit the search and rescue helicopter base on Portland, which is threatened with closure. In a debate in Parliament last night, Richard Drax accused the government of failing to consult local people about the proposal.

He says the move would cost lives at sea.

MP accuses Government over Portland helicopter

An MP has again called on a Government minister to visit the Portland search and rescue helicopter base, which is threatened with closure. In a debate in Parliament, Richard Drax accused the government of failing to consult local people about the proposal, which he said would cost lives.

The South Dorset MP called for the discussion after the announcement that the aircraft is due to go when the service is privatised in 2018. The area will then be covered from bases further away. He said officials should see the area for themselves.