Councillors to fight to keep Wales Air Ambulance base open
Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter
Powys County Councillors have agreed to fight to keep the Wales Air Ambulance base in Welshpool open.
A motion to support the campaign to keep the Wales Air Ambulance base in Welshpool open, was brought to a council meeting for discussion on Thursday, October 13 by Plaid Cymru group leader, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan.
But with more details expected to be published by the charity next month explaining why they are proposing the changes, some councillors believed the motion would tie the hands of the council behind its back.
The motion was brought to the council meeting on Thursday, October 13 by Plaid Cymru group leader, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan.
Cllr Vaughan believed that the Wales Air Ambulance is set to relocate to a central base near Rhuddlan in North Wales.
This would mean that not only the helicopter would leave Welshpool but so would the response vehicles.
Cllr Vaughan told the meeting that a former Air Ambulance pilot had called the proposals a “crazy idea.”
This is because flights to and from incidents can be hampered by weather in the mountains, which put extra time on journeys and could cost lives.
Cllr Vaughan said: “Our communities in Powys, and the lives of our residents are just as important as those of people living in urban parts of Wales.
“At the end of the day, the whole purpose of the Air Ambulance is supposed to be serving the most rural parts of Wales.”
He added that the charity should not be “stubborn” about accepting money from the Welsh Government.
Cllr Vaughan said that people who are injured and in pain fearing for their lives are not going to: “care or ask” whether it is charity or Welsh Government paying for their treatment.
Cllr Gary Mitchell who seconded the motion said that Wales Air Ambulance had been expected to release the data in September.
“They’ve had over two months to tidy that up were in October and it gives me cause for concern,” said Cllr Mitchell.
Cllr Joy Jones said that it was expected that the NHS Commissioner would receive that data from Air Ambulance Wales on November 5.
Education portfolio holder Cllr Peter Roberts: “I think everyone here would agree that Welshpool is the right location for this service, and we should fight tooth and nail for it.
“But I’m concerned, hearing that there is new information and data coming into the public domain in November, that any motion we pass today commits us to that position for 12 months.”
Cllr Roberts asked Cllr Vaughan to “give serious thought” to postponing the vote until the next meeting, when the Air Ambulance proposals could be out to public consultation.
“And we can have a completely informed debate,” said Cllr Roberts.
Head of legal services and monitoring officer, Clive Pinney clarified that the time period before the motion could be discussed again is six months’ time.
Cllr Vaughan said he wanted to continue with the debate.
Cllr Gareth Jones said: “One thing that really alarms me when talking to members of the public is that they are now reluctant to support the charity.”
The motion was put to a vote and was carried by 41 votes in favour and 17 abstentions.
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