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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 April 2007, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Blair's pledge on Red Arrows cash
Red Arrows
So far almost 57,000 people have signed the petition
Prime Minister Tony Blair has declared the future of the Red Arrows is safe - after weeks of speculation the aerobatics team could be disbanded.

Fears had mounted that the displays could be axed as part of Ministry of Defence (MoD) cutbacks.

But in a written response to an online petition, Mr Blair said there were no plans to slash spending on the team.

Almost 57,000 people have signed the e-petition, which was posted on the Downing Street website in February.

The government recognises just what an important role the Red Arrows play in our national life
Prime Minister Tony Blair

A statement by the prime minister read: "I am pleased to be able to give you good news. There are no plans to change the funding for the Red Arrows, let alone to disband them.

"It is important, of course, that the MoD looks at the full range of its spending plans as part of its routine financial planning, to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent where our Armed Forces most need it.

"However, like you, the government recognises just what an important role the Red Arrows play in our national life. As the world's premier aerobatic team, they have thrilled millions of spectators over many years."

Councillor Alan Caine, of West Lindsey District Council, said the announcement was "good news".

"They are one of this country's greatest ambassadors, they go all over the world," he said.

World-famous squadron

He added that he hoped the squadron would stay at RAF Scampton.

"I think they're fantastic and that is appreciated generally but I do worry about them leaving Lincolnshire and particularly West Lindsey."

The 100-strong world-famous squadron was created in 1965.

It has completed more than 4,000 displays in 52 countries and draws on pilots who have often been involved in overseas operations in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

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