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LOCAL councillors have welcomed proposals by Wiltshire Air Ambulance to relocate their operations to a site near the Police Divisional HQ in Semington Road. Visitors to last weekend’s packed Melksham Food and River Festival were also given the opportunity to view the plans.
Representatives of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charity Trust attended a meeting of the planning committee of Melksham Without Parish Council on Monday night to explain their plans.
The proposals will now be discussed at a full meeting of the Melksham Without Parish Council later this month.
Councillors were told that the plan has the support of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust, who are preparing their own plans for building a canal link into Melksham which would run alongside the proposed new air ambulance site.
The two Trusts took advantage of their participation in the Melksham Food and River Festival on Sunday to view each other’s proposals along with hundreds of local people, who took advantage of the chance to visit their stalls to view and comment on the ideas on display.
As Wiltshire police are now operating a shared helicopter service with Avon, Dorset and Oxfordshire, the air ambulance needs to move from its present shared base at the Devizes police headquarters. The charity needs to complete the planning stages and building of their new facility to be fully operational by late 2016.
The two-storey building will include offices for the charity, a hangar for the helicopter with space for a back-up to cover servicing, a training facility and an open atrium which will be open to visitors wanting to find out more about the work of the ambulance and the charity. A team of high level paramedics will also be based at the site.
The Melksham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group (MNPSG) is being asked to plan another ‘open house’ event in the Assembly Hall in early October where both the air ambulance and canal charities can explain their latest plans to local people.
A spokesperson for MNPSG says, “There appears to be huge synergy between the plans of the two Trusts, which could be of enormous benefit to Melksham and its surrounding villages in the future.”