Wheelchair Users ‘In Despair’ Over Threat To Helicopter Service

Less able-bodied and wheelchair-bound islanders are in despair over how they would travel to and from the mainland if the helicopter service ceased.

That’s the view of Julia Day who told Councillors last night that she has recently experienced the challenges of travel to the mainland with a wheelchair user in her family.

She said she has found herself in several anguished conversations with people upset over whether there will be a future service.

“If we loose the helicopter service there are quite a lot of local residents who will find it impossible to get off the islands.” she added.

Wheelchairs can’t be accommodated on the normal fixed wing planes.

Julia said she was grateful to Skybus who took all of the seats out of the plane to repatriate her husband recently but that was not a scheduled flight, but a charter.

And in summer, only wheelchair users who can transfer to a seat on the boat can travel – here is not a wheelchair-safe docking bay. Julia said the now abandoned Route Partnership plan for a bespoke boat would have provided a solution for disabled travellers.

Members also heard that, In bad weather, patients have had to travel to medical appointments in Cornwall on the Gry Maritha.

This is something that the Council needs to think about seriously on behalf of the community, Julia said.