NORTH Wiltshire MP James Gray has joined the fight to prevent any moves to merge the Wiltshire Air Ambulance with a new service based in Bristol.

Great Western Ambulance Trust has denied there are proposals to scrap the current service and replace it with one being set up at Filton airport.

But a review of air ambulance provision in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Avon is taking place and the trust has refused to guarantee that Wiltshire would keep its own dedicated service in the future.

The trust has also signed a one-year rather than a five-year contract with Wiltshire Police to share the helicopter - a decision that has concerned the county's police authority.

Chairman Christopher Hoare said this week: "The Wiltshire Air Ambulance partnership is immensely valuable to the people of Wiltshire and the Wiltshire Police Authority would not wish to see this jeopardised.

"The helicopter which we use is funded through a private finance initiative. The original contract term which was for ten years will come to an end in December 2008 and there is provision to renew for a further period of five years.

"The recent meeting with the Great Western Ambulance Trust was held in order to determine what the intentions of the ambulance trust are in relation to the current arrangement."

He added: "Certainly the Police Authority would wish this cost-efficient joint service to continue if at all possible."

Now Mr Gray has written to GWAS chief executive making his views clear in no uncertain terms.

In his letter he said: "Perhaps it is worth recording that I, and I know many thousands of people across Wiltshire, would be wholly opposed to it.

"Not only do we fund it, but also a large rural area like Wiltshire surely has need of a dedicated air ambulance for our county alone. For similar reasons, I was opposed to the amalgamation of the Wiltshire Ambulance Service and the creation of the regional service, and I believe that recent reports bear out the wisdom of that view."

Wiltshire residents have raised £100,000s to keep the service flying and new Malmesbury mayor Andrew Woodcock has made it one of his appeal charities for this year.