Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Brazier and Sandys 'hopelessly confused' says Ladyman

MP calls Julian Brazier and Laura Sandys 'hopeless confused' over air sea rescue claims.

Claims, made in the local press and in a letter to the Shipping Minister that the English Channel emergency service is at risk from the scrapping of Air Sea Rescue aircraft at Manston are complete nonsense says South Thanet MP, Stephen Ladyman.

The claims were made by Julian Brazier, the Canterbury MP and Tory shadow shipping minister, after he was approached by Laura Sandys, the Tory candidate for South Thanet. He wrote to the shipping minister saying “I have been contacted by Laura Sandys the PPC for South Thanet as both a Kent MP and Shadow Minister for Shipping regarding the scrapping of Air Sea Rescue from Manston. I share Laura’'s concern and know that it will be echoed by a great many residents."

Stephen Ladyman said: "Mr Brazier and Ms Sandys are hopelessly confused. This is Tory scaremongering at its worst. The Air Sea Rescue helicopters have not been based at Manston for many years, they are at RAF Wattisham and have been for a long time.

There is a fixed wing aircraft based at the flying school at Manston that is used to monitor the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea. It takes pictures of ships using the channel which can be used in the prosecution of unsafe captains. It is to be replaced by a faster aircraft based at the owning company's HQ in Coventry but it is not involved in rescue work, which is done by helicopters.

Claims by Mr Brazier and Ms Sandys that the aircraft has an emergency rescue role are bogus. It can, in unusual circumstances, be called on to see if the crew can spot someone missing at sea but it is not in its protocol to do this and it has never 'thrown' a life raft to someone in trouble as has been claimed as to do so would be the equivalent of having a missile thrown at you at 150mph.

A simple telephone call to the Maritime Coastguard Agency would have told the Tories that the proposals have no impact on safety at sea or local rescue capacity whatsoever. Instead they chose to frighten people because an election is coming.

Of course, this is not the first time Ms Sandys has got transport policies confused. A couple of years ago she was telling people in local villages that the Government had plans to allow 60 tonne lorries on the roads. In fact, it was the Tory transport spokesman at the time who had proposed the idea and the Labour Government that had blocked it."

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