THE boss of the Great North Air Ambulance Service is calling for almost a third of revenue generated by speed cameras in the region to be donated to the charity.

Chief executive Grahame Pickering says the greatest challenge is in raising sufficient funds month by month to ensure continuity of service. Two helicopters are currently grounded because of a lack of cash.

"We rely entirely on donations," he said. "No air ambulance, to my knowledge, receives any regular financial support from central Government, nor do we ever qualify for Lottery funding."

Mr Pickering says a regular income is necessary to maintain and develop the service, part of which is achieved through campaigns and its recycling business.

"Despite our best efforts there is still a shortfall, but there is a way to address that which is related and acceptable to the vast majority of the public," he added.

He has recently discussed his speed camera revenue proposal with the relevant bodies but has been told that the latest advisory booklet specifically prevents such money being used to fund any other project.

He has the backing of Cumbria County Council, which has lobbied the Deputy Prime Minister on the charity's behalf.

"Neither the police nor the local Safety Camera Partnerships (SCP) object, yet this common sense and perfectly acceptable solution cannot be advanced because the rules will not permit it," he said.

Last year across the region the charity's three helicopters attended 1,400 incidents, 40pc of which were road traffic related, and Mr Pickering said most would have involved excessive speed. He pointed out its continued support, at some expense, of campaigns such as Christmas drink-driving, Kill Your Speed, and motorcycle safety days.

In proposing that the Great North Air Ambulance receive 30pc of the revenue generated by speed cameras, he outlined the benefits.

"A well-funded service provides the NHS with a reliable and consistent resource at no additional cost to the health authority," he said. "Much of the criticism surrounding the amounts of money generated by these cameras would be mitigated, as the public would recognise a common sense and related benefit."

However, a spokesman for the Department of Transport said that the rules were there for a reason.

"Safety Camera Partnerships put in a business case each year, and that's how much they will need to run their operations. Any revenue over that goes to the Treasury. If one organisation were being supported by speed camera revenue, it would then turn into something very different.

"Speed cameras can't be seen to be money-making ventures. The best SCP would be the one that goes bust, because the idea is not to make money, but to slow down traffic.