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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 19:53 GMT
PM's 'surprise' at cash concerns
The delegation meeting Tony Blair (picture: Central Beacons Mountain Rescue)
The delegation met Mr Blair for about 15 minutes
Mountain rescue leaders who confronted the Prime Minister over growing funding problems claim he was "surprised" to hear about their plight.

Mr Blair did not pledge any UK Government funding, but rescue leaders said the meeting was "positive".

They warned the Prime Minister that services could struggle unless money is made available to England and Wales' 73 voluntary rescue groups.

They have asked for 1.5m towards their annual running costs.

Wales' 15 voluntary rescue teams jointly receive 13,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government and nothing from the UK Government.

The Scottish Executive has been part-funding its 23 teams since 2003.

'Eyebrows'

Penny Brockman, treasurer of Central Beacons Mountain Rescue and the Mountain Rescue Council for England and Wales, met Mr Blair for 15 minutes along with Merthyr Tydfil MP Dai Havard on Wednesday at Downing Street.

She said: "Mr Blair was surprised by some of the things we had to say.

The delegation outside number 10 (picture: Central Beacons Mountain Rescue)
The delegation was not promised any extra money

"I saw his eyebrows move upwards when we told him that some mountain rescue team members have to buy their own pagers and other equipment.

"He said he would do what he could to move things forward, to find a suitable resolution. But he did not make any pledges about extra money."

Ms Brockman added that the meeting had been "positive".

There are 15 rescue teams in Wales, including mountain and cave rescue, and dog search units.

The 13,000 they receive from the Assembly Government can only be used to buy equipment.

Rescue teams in Wales warned in January they needed public funding to reflect their increased use as "urban search" teams by police.

In recent months, the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team has been used to search for a young child in Haverfordwest and an elderly man with Alzheimer's in Tonyrefail.

An average rescue teams spend about 20,000 per year on running costs.


SEE ALSO
Mountain rescuers save motorists
29 Jan 07 |  North West Wales
Rescue teams aid missing climbers
22 Jan 07 |  North East/N Isles
More cash for rescue teams
17 Nov 03 |  Scotland

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