A GOVERNMENT minister swung by Bolton yesterday morning to find out how her departments money was being spent.

Bolton Mountain Rescue Team has two boats which its members use in search and rescue operations and flooding emergencies.

In the last few years they have received £40,000 of Department for Transport funding to help them maintain and boost their water equipment.

Martin Banks, treasurer for the rescue team said: "It's a phenomenal amount of money, it's more than we'd raise in a year sometimes."

Nusrat Ghani, maritime minister for the Department for Transport, was in Bolton to announce an additional £1 million being given to support inland water rescue teams like Bolton Mountain Rescue Team (MRT).

In the last five years £5 million has been made available for groups like Bolton MRT to bid for. Bolton MRT has benefited from this funding enabling them to buy a flood-ready RIB, superior outboard motor for their smaller RIB and kit out their team with top-of-the-line dry suits and life jackets.

The personal equipment each member uses, including dry suits, costs around £2,000 said Mr Banks and needs replacing every few years.

Ms Ghani said: “I’ve been shown the great work of the volunteers and the equipment they have been able to purchase with the funding that they were given through the Department for Transport.

“The work of these volunteers is absolutely critical. They know the area inside out so when they are called out to an emergency at very short notice they understand the territory, they understand the water, they work very well as a team and they are absolutely trained.

“I saw them in action today, they are committed to delivering the service and rescue of people in all sorts of circumstances.”

Mr Banks said: "We've got boats for three reasons, one is for flood response.

"Secondly it's for doing rescues in water. We don't get called to that often because that's the fire service's responsibility, but if something happened in these areas and we were roundabout we can go to that.

"The third is to keep our team safe. A lot of our area, if you look at the map, there's a lot of water, there's a lot of reservoirs, there's a lot of rivers and when we're searching for despondents and missing people we sometimes deploy the boat as a means to protect our volunteers on the rivers."

Mr Banks revealed their water equipment is a "national asset" and can be sent around the country as needed.

He said: "We have been to Lancaster and up to Scarborough, to support with flooding incidents.

"In Scarborough there was exceptionally high tide expected it did flood but there was no risk to life.

"When we went to Lancaster it was quite badly flooded.

"he River Lune had burst its banks and the city was isolated because the bridges were compromised and there was a significant power outage as well.

"We did a bit of ferrying, moving people around and logistics support for the fire service, a lot of it is just being on standby in case you're needed.

"Whilst the fire service and police were dealing with the incidents they were at breaking point so we were there to support."

Most of Bolton MRT also have medical training, Mr Banks said: "Not only can we rescue people but we can also help them once we've rescued them."

Ms Ghani was joined for a tour of the mountain rescue team's base by Bolton West MP Chris Green. The pair were then take out on High Rid Reservoir for an up close look at a water rescue.

Bolton MRT first rescued a dummy from the water before one of the team jumped in for further rescue practice.

Mr Green said: "It’s fantastic to see the professionalism of the Bolton Mountain Rescue Team the work they do, the training they put in and the commitment they have to the community and the local area.

“They’re all volunteers, they do this in their spare time but I think it’s a huge reassurance to local people when they go up in the hills, are messing around on the water, that we have got a great team backing them up.

“I’m so pleased the ministers come over we got funding from the department, it’s really important that central government does support our community groups.”