Progress made solving issues over squadron’s suspension

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A meeting has been held to try to resolve a dispute which led to the recent suspension of Thurston air cadets.

Last month, activity at the popular 863 ATC squadron was suspended by the RAF after a breakdown in communications between the civilian committee and uniformed officers.

On Monday, members of a newly formed sub committee of the civilian committee met senior uniformed staff of the Air Cadet Organisation (ACO).

The sub committee is made up of parents of cadets who want to see the squadron re-open. It is aiming to get the organisation up and running again by July.

Clare Jacobs, its spokeswoman, said: “As parents we saw the devastation on our children’s faces and were very anxious to try and help resolve the situation as soon as possible.

“Some are training to go into the RAF so it’s fundamental for their future that they continue to build the parade.”

She said an action plan to open up channels of communication was put in place at Monday’s meeting, which would be worked through over the next few weeks.

“It was a constructive meeting with the ACO and I think we’ve agreed some very positive actions, continuing to work with both the civilian committee and ACO, with a view to trying to find a way forward,” she said.

When activity of the squadron was suspended last month, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty said one of the criteria required for it to reopen was ‘demonstrable evidence of improved working relationships’ between the civilian committee and uniformed officers.”

Of the meeting, Air Cdre McCafferty said: “Unfortunately, none of the civilian committee members attended, despite my and the chairman of the sub committee’s hope that they would. A missed opportunity, in my view, for a frank exchange of views on the working relationship between the civilian committee and the Organisation.

“Despite their absence, the meeting was very constructive and actions were agreed in the hope of identifying a way of satisfying the requirements of all parties. This will now be relayed to the civilian committee and we await their response.”

She added: “There remains the prospect of reopening the squadron but I have made it clear what the ACO means by strong working relationships and it remains to be seen if we can achieve this.

“Without these working relationships at all levels, I will not reopen the squadron, despite the regrettable impact on the cadets.”

Mrs Jacobs said it was understood the civilian committee would not attend.

Civilian committee chairman Doug Levey was not available for comment.