Ashton calls for Council to support air ambulance

DUNGANNON councillor Kim Ashton is calling on Mid-Ulster District Council to help fund the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance.

Annually, the service costs £2 million. At present it relies solely on charitable donations. Cllr Ashton is calling for Mid-Ulster District Council to donate £180,000 and would like to see the Council encourage Northern Ireland’s 10 other councils to do the same.

Cllr Ashton plans to bring the motion forward at the Council’s monthly meeting on Thursday.

Her motion will read: “That this Council acknowledges the great work of the NI Air Ambulance. This life saving service has had to be deployed 33 times to the Mid-Ulster area during the first 10 months of 2018.

“And that this Council recognises the significant public fundraising efforts to keep the NI Air Ambulance operational and contribute 1/11th (£181,818) of the running costs of the NI Air Ambulance which is currently £2 million.

“And furthermore this Council writes to the other 10 Councils urging them to match Mid-Ulster District Councils Commitment.”

Speaking to the Courier ahead of the meeting, Kim Ashton said: “The NI Air Ambulance provides a life saving service to Northern Ireland. 

“Since its formation, the NI Air Ambulance have been expected to keep the helicopter in the air by public fundraising. This service should not have to solely rely on the goodwill of the people. Government should be financially supporting this service.

“Within Mid-Ulster, across the first 10 months of 2018, the Air Ambulance has been deployed 33 times. Having met some of the families that have benefited from the service of the NI Air Ambulance, I have seen how grateful they are that this service is available within Northern Ireland.  

“The NI Air Ambulance can get anywhere in the province in approximately 25 minutes, ensuring patients can get treatment as quickly as possible.

“It takes approximately £2 million to keep the helicopter in the air.  If each Council was to contribute equally to this it would costs just over £180K to each Council.  

“For Mid-Ulster Council this would equate to just 0.4 per cent of our budget. I believe this is value for the rate payers of each council.  

“As we approach setting next years budget this is an ideal time to ring fence this money and contribute to a service that saves lives within our Council area.  

“I hope that the Councillors in Mid-Ulster see this proposal as a real benefit to our whole community regardless of their background or beliefs.”

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