Praise for Filton MP from Chancellor
Published on: 15 Jan 2015
Filton’s MP Jack Lopresti was praised after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne visited Filton following a pledge of £1m to run the service for a year.
The funding will allow the Great Western Air Ambulance service to run its EC135 helicopter. The helicopter, currently based at Filton Airfield, is part of the regional 999 emergency response service.
However doubt remains over the future location of he air ambulance after the plans for housing developments and employment on Filton Airfield indicated space may not be available, meaning the helicopter would need a new home.
It provides a critical care service to emergences across the counties of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, North Somerset and parts of Wiltshire. It is the youngest air ambulance in England and Wales so this will secure the charity’s future as it has just upgraded to the EC135 helicopter.
The Chancellor met members of the critical care team including two of the original crew members Critical Care Paramedic Pete Sadler and Clinical Support Officer John Wood and seeing the helicopter that the funds will support.
Mr Osborne made the funding pledge during the Autumn Statement, when he also unveiled a £5m infrastructure/equipment fund for Air Ambulances across England and Wales, to support purchasing helipads and lifesaving equipment such as defibrillators. The Chancellor further announced VAT refunds to all air ambulance charities, worth £25 million over five years.
The funding comes from Libor fines levied on banks. The Chancellor pledged that all the proceeds of these fines would be spent during this parliament on military and blue light good causes. Mr Osborne said: “The Great Western Air Ambulance saves lives across the south west, so I’m delighted to be able to keep their helicopter flying with £1m of additional funding.
“This funding comes from Libor fines levied on banks, and it’s only right that funds from those who demonstrated the worst values should go to those, like the brave air ambulance crews, who demonstrate the best of British values on a daily basis. That’s why I’ve earmarked more than £30m of funding for air ambulances across the country.”
GWAAC Chief Executive John Christensen said: We were delighted at the Chancellor’s pledge of £1m of funding and that he was able to see first-hand how important this funding is. For the first time since I started GWAAC our future is looking financially secure. This is all down to the effort of Jack Lopresti MP plus other local MPs in the area and of course the fantastic team behind GWAAC.”