Britain's mountain rescuers are unpaid volunteers trained to professional standards

Britain's mountain rescuers are unpaid volunteers trained to professional standards

The coalition Government has turned down a Cumbrian MP’s bid to use cash from a £4m fine following the Grayrigg train crash to fund mountain rescue.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron asked Chancellor George Osborne if the fine on Network Rail for health and safety breaches could go to help the volunteer rescue teams, many of which helped emergency services following the fatal accident.

Mr Farron, who is also the Liberal Democrats’ national president, said the equivalent amount of the fine should be paid to mountain rescue from the consolidated fund, the Government’s central ‘bank account’.

But Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said there were no plans to direct any of the cash from the Government-owned rail company to volunteer rescue services.

In a written reply to Mr Farron, he said: “The Government values the work of the mountain rescue and air ambulance services.

Tim Farron's bid for the cash for rescuers was turned down

Tim Farron's bid for the cash for rescuers was turned down

“Like all fines and levies, fines imposed on Network Rail flow to the consolidated fund and go towards funding the public services as a whole, including contributions to mountain rescue services and clinical staff in the air ambulance services.”

Mr Farron has campaigned in the past to get Westminster cash for England and Wales’s mountain rescue teams, which are charities but which have to pay an estimated £200,000 a year in VAT to the Government, a sum which rose after Mr Osborne raised the VAT rate from 17 to 20 per cent.

Last August, Mr Alexander announced a four-year grant of £200,000 per annum to the UK’s 75 volunteer rescue teams.

The Scottish Government provides more than £300,000 additionally to teams north of the border.

Network Rail was fined after faulty points near the Cumbrian village of Grayrigg caused a Virgin Pendolino express to leave the tracks in February 2007, killing 84-year-old Glaswegian Margaret Masson and injuring 88 other people.

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