Monday, 28 May 2012

Lib Dems Condemn Plans To Cut Fire Service Frontline

Cllr Nigel Bell
(LD, Ely North and East) 

Conservative and Labour Councillors on the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Fire Authority have voted to agree deep cuts to emergency fire services while rejecting repeated calls from Liberal Democrat members to protect the front-line. While the scale of the cuts is dependent on the grant settlement from central government, it is expected to be up to £6 million over 4 years and could result in the closure of 4 fire stations, the loss of 10 Fire Appliances and over 40 firefighter compulsory redundancies. The losses include the removal of the second fire appliances at both Soham and Ely and the downgrading of Ely Fire Station to Retained status.

Lib Dem members tabled a motion to protect the frontline by finding savings through cuts to senior management costs, closer working with neighbouring counties and reviewing plans to limit the Fire Authorites Council Tax rises to 2.5 per cent over the next three years. However, Labour and Conservative Councillors rejected this motion.

“We condemn these cuts completely and the inevitable rise in response times they will cause,” said Nigel Bell, Lib Dem Opposition Leader on the Fire Authority. “We have a moral duty to protect the public and these unacceptable cuts could cost lives.”

Cllr.Bell will also be taking his concerns to a meeting in June with Bob Neill, the Government's Fire Minister, to press him to ensure that the government grant is fairer to rural authorities.

The losses planned are:

2 Rescue Vehicles, 2 Turntable Ladders and 6 other fire appliances (from Ramsey, Swaffham Bulbeck, Ely, Soham, St.Ives, Manea, Thorney & Gamlingay).

The closure of Swaffham Bulbeck, Manea, Thorney & Gamlingay Fire Stations.

The reduction of Huntingdon Station to day-crewed, the downgrade of Cambridge's second appliance to Day Crewed, the downgrade of a Peterborough appliance to Day Crewed, and the downgrade of Ely, St Neots and Wisbech fire stations to retained.