Air ambulance boost as Hartlepool councillors allow doorstep bag collections to continue

An Air Ambulance taking off from waste ground behind the Mecca Bingo in Hartlepool
An Air Ambulance taking off from waste ground behind the Mecca Bingo in Hartlepool

Councillors have agreed to allow the Great North Air Ambulance service to continue to run doorstep charity collections in Hartlepool for another three years.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Licensing Committee had to give an exemption to allow the service to run its household bag collections because it does not meet the council’s criteria for how much is collected going back into the charity.

The air ambulance runs a trading company employing 35 people to carry out the bag collections across the whole of the north.

The council only grants licences to organisations if at least 75% of what is collected goes to the charity or it clearly states what the percentage is so people can make an informed decision.

For the air ambulance service around 80% of the value of the donations is used to cover the running costs of the trading company with about 20% going to the charity.

On Wednesday, councillors renewed a three-year exemption to the Great North Air Ambulance after saying it was a vital service.

Grahame Pickering, chief executive of the Great North Air Ambulance, said: “It’s quite a complex business but it has got to be a business so we can take that profit and donate it to the charity by process of Gift Aid.

“Hartlepool is a big supporter as far as we are concerned. To lose this particular licence would have a fairly significant impact on the trading company as it currently stands.”

Its door to door collections across its entire coverage area raises about £262,000 for the charity.

Councillor Paul Beck said: “We are a significant contributor towards what is an absolutely first class service. I can’t state how important this is.”

Coun Rob Cook added: “They need more money now that they have ever needed. I support that we renew the licence.”

Chair of the licensing committee Councillor Brenda Loynes said: “It’s a really worthwhile cause and it saves thousands of people’s lives.

“In my mind it has to be for another three years at least.”