Thursday, 23 February 2012

Lib Dems Condemn Emergency Fire Cover Cuts Fearing Safety Risk

Cllr Nigel Bell
(LD, Ely North and East)

Plans which could see cuts to emergency fire cover, if more than the already planned £4.2 million savings are required over the next four years, have been condemned by Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats.

They fear lives could be at risk after Tories on Cambridgeshire Fire Authority endorsed potential plans for sweeping cuts to front line services across the county.

And they claim the Tories have made these cuts inevitable by setting council tax rises at 2.5 per cent, well below current inflation levels.

“We condemn these cuts completely as they would lead to the downgrading or closure of fire stations, a reduction in fire fighters and fire appliances and an increase in emergency response times,” said Nigel Bell, Lib Dem Leader on the Fire Authority. “We have a moral duty to protect the public and these cuts are unacceptable and could cost lives.

“The Tory members have made these cuts inevitable by their insistence on setting council tax rises at well below inflation. We proposed an extra one per cent, or one pence a week, council tax rise which could have been sufficient to make these cuts unnecessary; but the Tories members rejected this at the fire authority meeting last week.”

If the cuts go-ahead they will include:

  • downgrading Huntingdon Fire Station to day crew only; 
  • removing second fire engines from Ramsey and St Ives; 
  • closing Manea fire station and removing the fire engine;
  • removing the second fire engines from Soham and Ely, removing either Burwell or Swaffham’s fire engine and removing the retained service fire engines from Thorney or Gamlingay.

 "People's lives will be put at risk by these cuts and the blame must largely fall on Tory Fire Authority Members for keeping council tax rises well below inflation,” said Cllr Bell. "We can only hope that the Government's grant to Cambridgeshire's Fire Service is fairer for the next two years and that the very worst of these cuts can then be avoided."