Gordon MP sir malcolm bruce reports back

Helicopter crash raises serious questions

The fatal crash of yet another Super Puma helicopter last week raises serious questions for North Sea operations.

There have been too many incidents and fatal accidents involving these aircraft for anyone to feel comfortable flying in them as long as the causes of these incidents are unexplained.

It appears the helicopter was on its approach to Sumburgh when it suddenly plunged into the North Sea and very quickly overturned. This is precisely the situation for which survival training is designed.

I underwent the training last year and can confirm how scary and disorientating it is to be dumped in water in a mock up cabin and be turned upside down and then have to release your seat belt and push out the window to get out.

To undergo it for real in the hostile environment of the North Sea would be traumatic in the extreme.

I am sure it helped the 12 people who survived. Sadly, for four people, it did not deliver them to safety and they lost their lives.

I know of a least one constituent who was on board and survived, but his family’s experience has raised further questions.

Of course it is right for Super Pumas to be grounded again but this incident comes after the previous grounding had only just come to an end.

The North Sea industry depends on helicopter transfers and this will present serious morale and logistical challenges. Surface transfer presents other challenges.

The very first debate I initiated in the House of Commons 30 years ago was on the subject of helicopter safety.

It is sad and disturbing that so many operational years later we cannot have more confidence in this vital mode of transport.

Food bank helps people through crises

I was pleased to visit the recently established North Aberdeenshire food bank in Inverurie.

The food bank was set up by Oldmeldrum couple, Steven and Barbara King assisted by dedicated volunteers.

Already it has collected more than four tons of food for distribution to people facing a crisis.

People will be referred to the service by organisations such as Gordon Rural Action, Citizens’ Advice or Social Services and are offered not just food but support and

advice to help them through the crisis and avoid dependency on emergency food support.

It is clear that local people have been very generous in their support with gifts of money and food directly or through collection points at local supermarkets who add

to the contributions made by their customers.

In an area like ours, we are lucky to have full employment.

Nevertheless, it is an expensive area and people living on low and uncertain incomes can find themselves in sudden crisis which may mean they cannot provide food for their family in the immediate future. That is when the food bank comes into its own.

The bank will welcome gifts of food (which can be packaged and easily stored), money and volunteers to help with distribution and support.

Scottish Government destroys local initiative

The destruction of our local police force is well under way since control was shifted to the central belt under the SNP Government’s continue process of central political control and the destruction of localism.

The latest manifestation is the end of the award winning Safe Drive, Stay Alive campaign with three of the five officers involved taking voluntary redundancy.

This was an initiative to prevent the toll of road deaths involving young people.

It showed older school children in the most dramatic way possible the traumatic impact

of a fatal road accident.

This is, apparently, part of the new centralised Scottish police force drive to pull out of education and prevention and concentrate on enforcement.

Of course the police should enforce the law but community involvement to prevent crime or promote road safety and other benefits has been a key part of the culture of the now disappeared Grampian Police Force.

I hear that these and other initiatives has led to the plummeting of morale in what was once a proud local police service working with the local community from within rather than imposing central diktats from outside.