Helicopter deal collapses

PLANS to update search and rescue helicopters across the country, including aircraft at Wattisham Airfield, have been put on hold.

The deal to privatise Britain’s air-sea rescue service, which has 12 bases in the UK and is run by the Royal Air Force, was halted by the Government after information relating to the bid process fell into the hands of the preferred bidder – the Soteria consortium.

Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, said in a statement that Soteria had informed the Government in December of irregularities concerning the conduct of its bid team.

This included evidence that a former member of the Government’s project team had assisted the consortium in preparing its bid.

“The Government has sufficient information to enable it to conclude that the irregularities that have been identified were such that it would not be appropriate to proceed with either the preferred bid or with the current procurement process,” said Mr Hammond.

The consortium had been due to take over the scheme from next year.