Staggering support shown in fight against EMAS plans

Bruce Wells, a member of Last GASP.
Bruce Wells, a member of Last GASP.
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An action group battling against plans to close Grantham’s ambulance station has been astounded by the strength of feeling from the Grantham community.

In just a few days, members of Last GASP have managed to gain hundreds of signatures and backing from shops and surgeries in the town centre and rural areas.

All are against proposals by the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) to replace stations across the region with hubs, ‘community ambulance posts’ and standby points.

Several hundred signatures of support were given on Saturday alone, as members Susan Swinburn, Mark Bartlett, Councillor Bruce Wells and Coun Ian Selby went out into the town centre.

Coun Selby said: “We got an absolutely terrific response. People were queueing up to sign the petition.

“All in all we’ve had an incredible reaction. There’s a sense of anger with what EMAS is proposing. There’s also a sense of the people wanting to do something to try and stop these proposals.”

Coun Selby said he hopes the common belief that decisions are already made before public consultation even starts is not true in this case. He added: “We can only do our best.”

EMAS chief executive Phil Milligan has said the aim of the ‘Being the Best’ review is to build a stronger future for the service. He said: “We have launched a ‘Being the Best’ programme to improve the way we work as an organisation; to becomethe best ambulance service we can be.”

Last GASP will man a market stall in Grantham tomorrow (Saturday). Members of the public are urged to go along.

In addition, a public meeting will be held at King’s Hotel in North Parade, Grantham, on Thursday. Coun Selby said it is “vital” that people go along to show strength in numbers.

Last GASP needs as much help as it can get from the public. If you would like to support the action group, call 07766 269720 or e-mail: ian@ieselby.freeserve.co.uk

l A dampener on Saturday’s efforts by Last GASP came as Coun Wells and Mrs Swinburn were ordered to leave The George Centre amid outcry by members of the public nearby.

Coun Wells said a security guard arrived and told them to leave the centre immediately.

He added: “What’s the problem with The George, that they can’t allow a petition to save the local ambulance station in the centre?”

Hilary Pearce, manager of The George Centre, told the Journal yesterday (Thursday) that the group had not booked a place, although had she been made aware of the group’s cause she would have given them the go-ahead. She added that Last GASP would be welcomed back into the centre.