PM Says Helicopter Rules to be Reviewed

As tributes are paid to victims of horrific crash

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the rules governing helicopter flights over central London will be reviewed following the horrific crash at Vauxhall Cross on Wednesday January 16.

Both Mr Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband paid tribute to the emergency services in the Commons, while Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey said new skyscrapers and the "changing skyline of London" made a tragedy more likely.

Mr Cameron replied: "Inevitably, it’s something that has to be carefully looked at."

Tributes have also been paid to the two men who died in Wednesday's horrific helicopter crash at Vauxhall Cross.

Captain Pete Barnes, 50, who was flying an Agusta 109 eight-seater aircraft leased to charter flight firm RotorMotion, was described as a "very experience pilot" and a spokesman for the company Paul Blezard said they had lost a "very dear friend and colleague".

Mr Barnes had been flying from the company's base in Redhill in Surrey to Elstree and had asked to divert to nearby London Heliport at Battersea when his helicopter hit a crash above the 50 storey tower at St George's Wharf and crashed into the street below.

Rebecca Dixon, his partner and mother of their daughter, Alexandra, 12, and Freddie, who is eight today, said the family had no doubt he would have been trying to prevent the loss of life before the crash. She said: " Obviously he would have been frantic and the lives of others would have been at the forefront of his mind. It sums up the man. I find it very comforting and so do the children."

Matthew Wood, 39, from Sutton, who was killed as he walked to work was described by his sister Amanda as "a big guy with a big heart". Matthew worked as communications manager for Rentokil, whose chief Alan Brown said: " Matt was well known to all of us who visit the Vauxhall office, including myself. He was in every respect a warm and generous man and a cornerstone of our team in Vauxhall. We extend our deepest sympathy to Matt's family."

London mayor Boris Johnson, visiting the site on Wednesday praised the emergency services and said: " What is inevitable is that we'll want to review all our policies, we'll want to look at the way we illuminate tall buildings, the way cranes are illuminated, to make sure nothing went wrong in this case and make sure nothing goes wrong in the future."

London Fire Brigades Union however, pointed out that plans to close 12 fire stations in London could jeopardise people's safety in future. Among the stations responding to the Vauxhall emergency within minutes was Clapham, which is due to be closed if the cuts go ahead.

Paul Embery from London Fire Brigades Union said: " Had that station been closed, there might not have been a long delay but there would have been one.

"If you haven't got a fire station close to where you live, you'll rely on one several miles away. With something like fire, it kills within minutes."


January 17, 2013