FRIST was delighted that Andrew George MP had the opportunity to raise the plight of islanders at Prime Ministers Questions in the House of Commons yesterday (19 Dec) . You can watch and listen to the exchange yourself here.
“The closure of the originally state-sponsored lifeline helicopter service to the Isles of Scilly two months ago has presented very significant challenges to islanders, to medical services and to the economy, but local people and other stakeholders are working together to find solutions. Would the Prime Minister be prepared to meet a small delegation of islanders and myself in order to explore what encouragement and assistance the Government can provide the islands in this, their hour of urgent need?"
Mr Cameron responded:
“My honourable friend makes an important point because clearly proper transport links to the Isles of Scilly are absolutely vital. I understand other providers are looking to fill the gaps that have been left by the helicopter service. This would provide the most long-term, most sustainable option rather than government subsidy. But obviously we have to look at all the options; this is a part of our country that needs to be connected to the mainland. If it is necessary to have a meeting then of course I will.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr George said:
“So, the Prime Minister says he will meet ‘if it’s necessary’.
“It is. Land’s End Airport has been closed for 16 days since 1st November. The medical community say the service is still not adequate to meet patient need. More needs to be done and the Government don’t need to worry that they would have to stump up all the cash. There are many other ways in which they could assist and support.
“I felt it was important to highlight this issue at a national level in this way in order to draw attention to both the challenges but also the opportunities to get durable and sustainable airline services in place for the Isles of Scilly for the years ahead.”
You can read Andrew Georges press statement here.
Whilst the Prime Minister was careful in his response, his statement acknowledged that “this is a part of our country that needs to be connected to the mainland” – a sentiment FRIST supporters would endorse wholeheartedly.
FRIST had briefed the MP on Lands End Airport closures using data obtained from the National Air Traffic Surface which has to be notified when airports are closed during times when normally they would be open (i.e. deviations from published opening times). Over the period 1 Nov – 27 Dec Lands End Airport was recorded as closed entirely for 14 days and closed for part of the day on 6 other days.