London copter crash ‘accident waiting to happen’

Steve Nally, Brixton Hilll Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate

“An accident waiting to happen,” was how one of my tower block neighbours summed up the Vauxhall helicopter crash.

Anyone who lives by the river Thames has seen a big increase in helicopter traffic and occasions when they seem too close for comfort.

This will get worse as more towers for the wealthy are built on London’s riverfront.

On 16 January, freezing fog meant that I could not see the top of the building that the helicopter struck.

London City airport was cancelling flights and the Woolwich Ferry wasn’t operating, so questions need to be asked as to why a helicopter was allowed to fly. Even the police helicopter was grounded.

Clapham fire station

Lives were saved because fire crews arrived on the scene very quickly including those based at Clapham fire station.

Yet that station is now up for closure which will inevitably mean more avoidable deaths and slower response times.

But London Fire Brigade management have ordered FBU members to remove posters informing local residents of the closure of the station and what it will mean to them.

Helicopter flights across London also need to be reviewed. Flight records show that the peak use of such flights takes place when the Royal Ascot races and other similar events take place, which indicates that helicopter flights are used more for ferrying the rich around than for practical purposes.

That helicopter landed yards from a railway line, a school playground a petrol station and supermarket. Things could have been much worse.

No fire station should be closed and helicopter flights across London should be restricted to emergencies and practical purposes, not a plaything for the rich.