VILLAGE leaders in Addingham fear being blackmailed into using precept cash to fund life-saving services in the community.

The Community First Responder team in the village has asked parish councillors for £400 a year to renew their defibrillator machine every four years at a cost of £1,600.

But at a recent meeting, Addingham Parish Councillor Alan Jerome said the request felt like 'emotional blackmail' because village lives would be at stake.

And he warned that if members agreed, the commitment would be never ending and would rise with inflation as the cost of the machine increased year on year.

The scheme was set up last March with a donation by the parish council of £1,300. Sponsorship was also obtained from the local masons, the Addingham Gala and a private patient transport company, allowing full training for volunteers, the provision of oxygen and a defibrillator used to treat people suffering from heart attacks.

Parish council chairman Gordon Campbell said that he would rather that the group, led by Alan Davies, looked for alternative sources of funding and approached the parish council to make up any shortfall.

Coun Jerome said that the request put the parish council in a difficult position. He said: "We are not in a position to say we are not prepared to support it. If people have a heart attack and died it could be said that Addingham Parish Council were not prepared to support the defibrillator.

"But I don't think it is right and proper to automatically think we should be expected to replace it each year and every year rising with inflation.

"We can't say we are not doing it any more. We will be prepared to support it in principle - we should write and say we are not prepared to support it in full, how are you going to raise the rest?"

After the meeting, Mr Davies told the Gazette that he hoped the parish council would become the principle sponsor of the defibrillator.

He said: "We know we face this cost in three years' time. We don't want to reach that point to need a quick generation of funding by begging bowl.

"It is far more structured to accrue the money annually and ask them if they want to become the principle sponsor. We ourselves will fund everything else - including our time."

Mr Davies said that the Community First Responder service had worked well so far with 18 call outs through the year.

The team had dealt with problems with angina, asthma, diabetic unconsciousness, breathing difficulties, chest pains and heart attack.

Mr Davies said: "It is working well. In all instances, we have been there prior to the ambulance and been able to commence treatment of the patient.

"It is working in the way it has been set up and the way we have trained. It is proving to be beneficial. We are becoming an established resource in the village, for the benefit of the village in a rural area, which does not have an ambulance station on the doorstep."