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Craven rescuers win funds but need donations
12:17pm Wednesday 16th April 2014 in News
Craven’s two rescue teams have welcomed the news that the Government is to give an extra £250,000 of funding to mountain rescue teams across England and Wales in 2015-2016.
The money is in addition to the £600,000 already provided to voluntary mountain rescue organisations.
The announcement, made by Transport Minister Stephen Hammond, comes after Skipton MP Julian Smith and other MPs lobbied the Government to continue to provide the grant that covers the cost of VAT on mountain rescue equipment and training for unpaid volunteers.
Mr Smith said: “This is excellent news that will be of great help to The Cave Rescue Organisation and Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association in my constituency who provide invaluable support for both residents and visitors.
“The Government appreciates the work that these groups do, and the time and effort they give to supporting rural communities, and I will continue to do whatever I can to support these organisations in the future.”
The money will be given to Mountain Rescue England and Wales, who will then write to mountain rescue teams, asking for their “shopping lists”.
Harry Long, chairman of the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association, said any help was welcome.
“It will reduce our expenditure on equipment and Mountain Rescue England and Wales has the advantage of being able to buy in bulk. Of course, with 60 odd rescue groups in the country, the money nowhere near covers our running costs, which are between £35,000 and £40,000 a year.
“We had initially requested the Government remove VAT on rescue team purchases, but instead it opted to give funding direct to Mountain Rescue England and Wales.”
And Heather Eastwood, chairman of the Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation, said: “We are grateful for any money put aside for rescue groups - but it will only work out at about £4,000 per team, which does not replace being VAT exempt.
“My concern is that, with the publicity over the extra money, people may think we don’t need donations any more and yet it is public donations that keep the service going.”
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