The response of emergency services to the Shoreham Airshow crash has been praised by county councillors during their first full meeting since the tragedy.
Eleven people died when a Hawker Hunter aircraft taking part in the event crashed into the A27 at Lancing.
On behalf of West Sussex County Council, leader Louise Goldsmith expressed her deepest and sincerest condolences to the bereaved families and friends at a Full Council meeting on Friday.
She explained how the crash presented the council and other agencies with a ‘major challenge the like of which they had never seen before’, but felt the response was a ‘shining example of public service at its finest’.
She said: “One of the county council’s guiding principles is that we will be there in an emergency and we were shoulder to shoulder with colleagues from police and the ambulance service and the voluntary sector.
“So today I want to put on record the council’s and my considerable appreciation and thanks for the considerable work that was undertaken.”
Sue Mullins called the emergency services ‘unsung heroes’ going about their jobs with ‘unending consideration and compassion’.
Andy Petch, who was part of a fire service crew that attended the incident on the day, described the ‘harrowing’ scenes, and praised not only the emergency services, but the other agencies involved.
This was echoed by Christine Field, WSCC’s cabinet member for wellbeing, who expressed their gratitude to the work of the employees in the coroners service. She said: “I would just like to thank them for their work which continued well beyond the 22nd of August.”
Lionel Parsons, whose division borders the crash site, said he found the compassion shown by the community quite moving and added: “The community has pulled together so well in such tragic circumstances.”
He thought it was important a thorough investigation established ‘rigorous measures to safeguard against a future tragedy such as this’.
James Walsh, leader of the Lib Dem Group, expressed his condolences to the bereaved families, and also welcomed the decision not to take down the ribbons placed on the Old Toll Bridge in memory of Matt Jones, who was from Littlehampton, before a meeting had taken place with his family.
This point was echoed by Mike Glennon, leader of the UKIP Group, who thanked the leader for allowing the ribbons to stay a little longer. He added: “It’s an important thing for the bereaved to feel there is a symbol there.”
Mrs Goldsmith added: “One of the strengths of this county council is when the chips are down we pull together and I can’t think of a finer example of this now when everyone thanks all of the emergency services and the work that they have undertaken.”
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