Flying Low

News that the National Police Air Service want to close Pembrey air base is hugely disappointing.

We signed an agreement to join only a few months ago. That was good for Powys and Ceredigion as well as Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. It secured access to air services for more hours of each day, from more bases, for slightly less money than it cost to run our own.

Running a helicopter is extremely expensive. I discovered this before Christmas in 2013 when the helicopter gearbox broke. It cost £250,000 to repair. Not a Christmas present I particularly wanted.

In the last few days, the helicopter used to look for Cameron Comey, the little boy who fell into the Towy, was initially provided from South Wales. Our helicopter was in Nottingham, again grounded for repairs.

The base we have in Pembrey is currently open from 9am to 9pm. When we join NPAS (currently expected to be 1 January 2016) all the bases will operate 24 hours a day.

So, there are good reasons for joining the national service. On top of that, we had no choice. The government could have forced us to join.

We need to work more closely with other forces if we are to deliver expensive things like air support in future. But that shouldn’t happen at the expense of service in rural areas.

My job last November was to get the best possible deal for Dyfed Powys. We hoped we had secured it. Unfortunately, we have more to do.

My job now is still to ensure that we get the best possible deal for rural areas like Dyfed Powys. With the Chief Constable, I will do exactly that.

I am determined that we will have a service that covers all of Dyfed Powys, when we need it at a price we can afford.

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