Fears over mine rescue service
1:00pm Monday 20th August 2012 in Ammanford news
A FORMER Betws county councillor and ex-collier has expressed “grave concern” over the future of the Mines Rescue Service in Wales, which played a key role in last year’s Gleision mine disaster.
Dr John Dorian Evans said that unless a shortfall in funding was urgently addressed, Wales could face losing the service altogether.
Dr Evans, of 1 Argoed Cottage, spent 20 years underground and is considered an expert on the history of the industry, writing extensively on the subject.
His concerns echoed those of MP Jonathan Edwards who said he also feared for the service.
From its Welsh base in the Rhondda, the service raises about £15,000 per year through a levy on mine owners, but produces most of its income through training and safety courses.
However, the income falls short of the amount needed to maintain the service.
“I equate the Mines Rescue Service with the fire service, the ambulance and the police,” said Dr Evans. “The issue of a funding shortfall is of grave concern, not least because of the Gleision disaster.
“The service remains essential in this area due to the continued extraction of coal in the lower Neath valley and the fact that a great many people from the Amman Valley work in these mines.
“It is vital that the service remains UK-wide with a base here in Wales, and I believe that central government and the Welsh Assembly Government has an incumbent duty to ensure the service remains.
“There is a need for Her Majesty’s inspectorate of mines to show clear direction on this.
They should be doing whatever they can to provide funding.
“The central government and the Welsh Assembly government must make a contribution to the running of the service.
“Unless thematter of the shortfall in funding is addressed there will be no mines rescue service left in Wales.”