Bumpy ride for chopper trust funds

Last updated 05:00 11/04/2014

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The battle for the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust's funding is facing more turbulence.

On April 2 the trust's judicial review request over proposed funding cuts was denied in the High Court.

The judge ruled the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board was within its legal rights to determine how it allocates funding.

Board chairman Vern Walsh says he is pleased with the outcome.

"We have always been confident our processes are robust."

The funding board has proposed cutting the money it gives to the helicopter trust from $900,000 to $450,000 over six years.

This is despite rescue operations by the Westpac rescue helicopter doubling in the past five years, with more than 900 emergency rescue missions throughout Auckland in 2013 alone.

A cut in funding could hurt response times at West Auckland beaches, placing more pressure on the St John ambulance service.

St John responded to more than 300 incidents in the past 12 months, from Piha on the west coast down to Laingholm on the Manukau Harbour.

On average there are eight callouts a month around Piha, six in Huia and 12 in Laingholm which require an ambulance.

Helicopter trust chairman Murray Bolton says a decision about the next step will be made by the end of May and the trust will also consider progress in working with Auckland mayor Len Brown.

"The court of first instance has issued its opinion and we need to analyse it carefully before deciding whether superior courts should become involved," Bolton says.

"Our preference is obviously not to appeal, we like to think we've moved on from litigation mode to ‘working-with-the-mayor mode'."

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- Western Leader

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