For Immediate Release
Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards Nominated for Grassroot Diplomat Award for Police Helicopter Campaign
London, UK – April 20, 2016 – Jonathan Edwards MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr has been shortlisted from over 100 politicians this year for the 4th Annual Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award. The award recognises outstanding politicians and diplomats who are representing civilian interests at the highest level in areas of policy, social and business overall. Mr Edwards is nominated for his campaign to save Dyfed-Powys Police helicopter services.
Previously a coal mining area, Carmarthen and Dinefwr is highly rural with a fragmented population and high number of tourists. Survivors who have been trapped in these difficult terrains would have died without the aid of helicopter services that operate search and rescue operations.
Since February 2015, Mr Edwards called out against government cuts to remove police helicopter services to a more centralised system that have been reported to be ill-equipped to dealing with rural emergencies. Plans to scrap the service had been published as far back as 2012 to replace the police helicopter with a fixed-wing aircraft. Police and crime commissioner Christopher Salmon confirmed he had agreed a deal with the National Police Air Service that would see Dyfed-Powys join a centralised service, resulting in the abolition of the force’s dedicated helicopter.
As part of the agreement, the helicopter base at Pembrey would be retained for the “foreseeable future” as a forward operating base – a move which Mr Edwards said had transformed the Carmarthenshire operation into nothing more than a "glorified petrol station".
Mr Edwards strongly opposed the move from the outset and launched a petition to highlight the public opposition to its loss. Delivering his petition to the Home Office, Mr Edwards called for the Policing Minister personally to intervene, adding that the safety and security of Dyfed-Powys residents was being compromised.
Mr Edwards petition to save Dyfed-Powys police helicopters received huge public support with local newspapers running the campaign and spreading news to out-of-reach areas. Mr Edwards also tabled a Parliamentary motion calling on the government to intervene and overturn the decision by the National Police Air Service. The petition was signed by more than 2,000 local residents which was presented to the Home Office in October 2015.
In addition to a Parliamentary motion, Mr Edwards held a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament where he outlined a strong case for the retention of the Dyfed-Powys police helicopter. The Minister of Policing was at the debate to respond on behalf of the Government.
Talyn Rahman-Figueroa, Executive Director of Grassroot Diplomat, said: “All too often, we hear stories of our governments not representing our needs but Grassroot Diplomat looks upon selfless individuals in a position of power, who work tirelessly for their communities. The award seeks to create a culture of positive role models within our governments which encourages others like them to follow suit. Grassroot Diplomat winners go beyond their job descriptions and those shortlisted for the award should be proud to be recognised this far.”
While the decision was not overturned, the campaign was successful in boosting local moral over an issue that was brought into the public debate towards central government, proving the power of local voices typically removed from political debates.
Join Jonathan Edwards MP and other government nominees for the gala dinner at The May Fair Hotel, London on Wednesday 20th April, 2016. For ticket information please visit: http://www.grassrootdiplomat.org/book-tickets or call 07511 816689.
Further details about the awards can be found on: www.grassrootdiplomat.org/annual-awards
About Grassroot Diplomat
Grassroot Diplomat is a non-profit diplomatic consultancy with the mission to build trust and strengthen relationships between governments and civil society. As an independent agency, Grassroot Diplomat shows no allegiance to a solitary government but will act in the interest of the people, no matter where they are or what state their country is in. We focus on improving public diplomacy activities by engaging government officials on sustainable social campaigns and investment projects that offers a positive rate of return for their people.
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