The truth about rapid response 4x4

Dear Sir, — I wonder whether this very wet winter weather we are having could herald the arrival of a long, dry summer, when we shall all lament the fact that there is to be a hosepipe ban. 
Thankfully, in Biddulph and the surrounding area we are not faced with the horrendous flooding that so many people are enduring. We can only sympathise with them. I am not too sure that visiting politicians would bring very much comfort when it is practical help that is urgently needed. That is my personal opinion, and I fully appreciate that when a member of the royal family takes time out to go to some of the affected areas that can be considered a good thing, as we know they are not likely to be looking for a photo opportunity.
Last week I attended a lecture given by a professor who worked alongside Sir Bernard Lovell of Jodrell Bank Observatory fame. His talk was very interesting, with pictures of our night sky and far beyond. It is a theory, only at this moment in time, that there could be thousands of planetary systems just like ours stretching out into space for billions of light years. As yet our minds are not well enough developed to comprehend just how far space extends, and where space ends, if indeed it ever does. Truly mind boggling.
At county I attended a meeting of highways where suggestions were presented for the future such as how we will travel on our highways, how HS2 will affect our travel, how will we fly and what will fuel our cars, buses, trains and planes, etc. Lots to plan for the next 20 years. Potholes and blocked gulleys were not mentioned, but I wouldn’t mind betting that in 2040/50 they will still be around.
Now is the time to mention the contents of a letter from the leader of the Staffordshire County Council’s highways team: “It is that time of year when the resilience of our network is pushed to the limit by storms, rainfall and bitterly cold weather. The number of defects will increase and the need for temporary repairs to ensure the network remains safe until we get our ‘pothole fixing season’ in the spring. The 1+ contract with Amey is set up so that any substandard work that needs revisiting will not be paid for.” 
With that in mind, if anyone encounters repairs that leave a lot to be desired, please let either me or County Coun Keith Flunder know as soon as possible.
Since the start of this new decade, whomsoever I come into contact with, whether at county, district or town council, there seems to be a diverse range of opinions as to what is achievable in the next few years. We now know that the HS2 network is to go forward, businesses are investing millions of pounds in new ideas, and now that we have left the EU we learn there is to be a determined effort to curb the excessive immigration figures, but no-one knows for certain what the future holds for us. Many folk consider that the future looks very bright indeed, which hopefully leads to better jobs, higher pay and a better life for all.
The huge issue of global warming must be seriously tackled. We also have new illnesses such as Covid-19 — a coronavirus that is currently affecting many people. 
We cannot see into the future, but the signs seem favourable at the moment, so I suggest you keep reading the Chronicle and I will do my best to keep you well informed over the years to come.
There are times when we councillors need to consider the impact of our reported words on members of the public. On seeing the headlines in last week’s Chronicle I can imagine that many people feel let down by our ambulance service, and the reported reaction of some town councillors at last Tuesday’s meeting, regarding the rapid response vehicle being removed from Biddulph. I hope readers did indeed “turn to page 28” to get the full facts as presented to a meeting of the district council the following day by West Midlands Ambulance Service’s Mark Docherty, director of clinical commissioning and strategic development / executive nurse.
For the benefit of those who did not have the opportunity of reading the reported verbal update it says: “We are in the process of enhancing the ambulance provision within Staffordshire. This will involve converting the 4x4 car in Biddulph to a 4x4 ambulance in the same way as we did with Leek a few years ago. It is clear from the recent meeting of the council that there is a misconception of the way the 4x4 car based at Biddulph is used. Currently it spends just 2.5% of its time in the town, the rest it responds to cases in other areas.
“Of the 3,011 cases in the Biddulph area for the six months from 1st August 2019 to 31st January 2020, the car did not respond to 85.3% of those cases; ambulances from elsewhere did. In addition to the cases that it did attend, it required backing up by an ambulance in 93.4% of cases.
“The independent reviews of ambulance services by both the National Audit Office and Lord Carter shows that sending an ambulance rather than a car is inherently more effective, as the one vehicle can deal with every situation, treating and discharging the patient at the scene or transporting them, be that to A&E or another care setting, something a car cannot.“We know that Staffordshire needs more ambulances. The county is consistently supported by ambulances from other parts of the region. On average the county benefits to the tune of 140 deployments every week, so increasing the number of ambulances can only benefit patient care. We fully acknowledge that weather can play a part in the Staffordshire Moorlands, which is why the trust will ensure that the ambulances based in Leek and Biddulph are always 4x4s.
“A third 4x4 ambulance will also be based at Stoke Hub so that crews can always change onto another 4x4 when they change over.”
I trust it is helpful to provide readers with this report. Knowledge is a powerful thing, and when we know the reality of a certain subject it can be comforting, particularly when the matter of healthcare is concerned. 
My wife Kay and I have been members of West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust for some years now, and it is good to know that here in Staffordshire we are looked after by the best performing ambulance service in the country.
I hope you all have a good week. If you know of anyone needing help with a matter of concern and you cannot help, please get in touch with your councillor. If you think I can be of assistance my contact details are below — Yours faithfully,

IAN LAWSON
County and district councillor,
Tel: 01782 522614.
Mobile: 07553 293 343.
ian.lawson@staffordshire.gov.uk