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VAT relief for Air Ambulance

The Great North Air Ambulance says a tax break announced in yesterday's budget will help save lives.

It costs £4million to run the service, £100,000 of which is the fuel needed. The VAT on that fuel has now been lifted after a lengthy campaign and a petition signed by 100,000 people.

"We're just all absolutely thrilled when we heard the news. It's been really hard to work to get to this stage, so it's just the culmination of everything we've been working towards.

We could save up to £25,000 and that money will go directly into the pot to pay for the missions. We estimate it costs about £2500 every time the aircraft flies, so you know, it could potentially save ten lives."

– Jim Entwhistle, Great North Ambulance Service

A boost has also been announced for Mountain Rescue Teams. They were disappointed the budget speech made no mention of VAT relief for them. But the House of Commons announced their funding has been secured. It means money due to run out next year will be extended beyond 2015.

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Joint emergency station is first in Scotland

The village of Newcastleton in the Scottish Borders has become the first in Scotland to have a combined police and fire station.

The move comes after the Community Council asked for a return of a visible police presence after their dedicated police station closed last year.

If it proves successful it may provide the template for similar stations elsewhere in the region as the Chairman for Newcastleton Community Council, Stuart Turnbull, explains:

New service to help reassure locals

Chief Inspector Andrew Clark, Police Scotland Credit: ITV News Border

Chief Inspector Andrew Clark from Police Scotland said:

"It's a really positive step forward. This is all about reassuring the people of Newcastleton that we retain a real active presence here and this will give them a single access point to access community services."

Police and Fire Service join forces in the Borders

The emergency station at Newcastleton Credit: ITV News Border

Police and Fire and Rescue Services have joined forces in the Scottish Borders to provide the first shared emergency service station in Scotland.

The station, based in Newcastleton, provides Police Scotland with their own office space within the fire station.

A local Community Officer and fire and rescue service staff will share facilities, with the aim of providing the community with a local shared service.

Shaun Turnbull, Chairman, Newcastleton Community Council Credit: ITV News Border

Shaun Turnbull, Chairman for Newcastleton Community Council, said:"This is brilliant for the town, particularly older people.

"The deterrent of having a visible police presence is very reassuring. Who knows, this might be an idea that could be rolled out across Scotland."

Motorists urged to exercise caution in wintry weather

The northbound stretch of the motorway between J37 and J38 was shut at around 9.40pm to allow vehicles to be recovered and for accident investigators to carry out investigations.

A spokesman for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said:

Nobody was trapped in their vehicles, so fire crews assisted the ambulance service with casualty care and first aid."

– Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service

The road is now re-opened but police are urging motorists to take extra care while a weather warning remains in place until 11am Sunday due to predictions of wintry showers and ice.

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Emergency crews respond to more than 6000 calls in two days

In one of the busiest times of the year for emergency services the North West Ambulance Service had a busy festive period. The most common call outs were: breathing problems (788), Falls (624) and chest pains (483). Director of Operations, Derek Cartwright said:

“We always see an increase in emergency calls at this time of year but this year has been exceptional. I would like to take this opportunity to thank NWAS staff for all their hard work in caring for the population of the North West.

“As we approach New Year, it is important that people remember 999 is for serious and life-threatening emergencies. Please help us to help the most vulnerable people, by keeping ambulances free to deal with genuine emergencies.”

– Derek Cartwright, Director of Operations

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