Gordon has written to the Chief Operating Manager of the National Police Air Service (NPAS) to warn of the “detrimental impact” the potential closure of the Warton base could have if it went ahead next spring.
Gordon, who has been contacted by a number of constituents and shares their concerns on the issue, said any decision on the future of the base needed to be “carefully considered.”
In his letter to Chief Superintendent Tyron Joyce, Gordon said: “The Warton base plays a very important role in Lancashire and more specifically the Blackpool coast, having helped in missing person searches, especially with dangers such as the sea and piers, which my Blackpool South constituency covers all of.”
During one week in April NPAS helicopters provided help with a recent warehouse fire in Fleetwood, the search of a missing child in Poulton Le Fylde and also aided ground officers in a recent traffic pursuit. Gordon said this showed how the service was “much needed” in the local area.
If the Warton site does close it is expected to be covered by bases in Manchester and Cheshire, which Gordon warned will put more “unnecessary pressure and stress” on officers within these areas, potentially putting lives in jeopardy.
He added: “With response times at 20 minutes across Lancashire, I am concerned it could be stretched much further if the county’s Warton base is to be closed.
“I am aware that the NPAS’s main focus is to provide and ensure that the local police services have a quickly deployable asset – with the Warton base closure I feel that this focus can no longer be viable given the continuing pressure on costly police resources. The Warton base provides an effective and efficient service to the many residents and communities in Lancashire and its closure could put many lives in jeopardy in the future.”
Gordon has requested that the NPAS provide him with the full details for the timescale for the changes but also to give “serious consideration” to reviewing the proposed closure.
Echoing Gordon's comments, Richard Baguley, the Chair of Blackpool and Fylde Neighbourhood Watch (non-political), has also written to the NPAS. See his letter below:
Dear Chief Superintendent Joyce,
I would like to add our whole-hearted support, on behalf of Neighbourhood Watch across Blackpool and the Fylde, to Gordon Marsden MP’s letter.
He echoes the thoughts and concerns of many people locally in Blackpool, Fylde and across Lancashire.
It would be a retrograde step in terms of community safety and fear of crime to lose such a valuable and important service for Lancashire. Its role in the recent floods being just one of many examples.
Without this, I feel we will inevitably ‘play second fiddle’ to the major cities and suffer as a result.
I fully appreciate the pressure to cut costs, but there must be a better way to do this? I feel sure the county’s business community and other organisations would be prepared to look at some form of jointly funded model rather than losing the Warton service.
I hope the weight of public opinion in support of this campaign will urge you to re-consider.
With kind regards
Richard A. Baguley
Chairman of Blackpool & Fylde NHW Executive Committee