COLUMN: Fire service cut plans extremely concerning

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Proposals from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) to save £1million a year would put public safety at risk, says the Fire Brigades Union.

A proposal to introduce mixed crewing — a mixture of full time firefighters with on-call personnel — at two out of three firestations, Ashfield, Retford or Worksop would mean the selected stations would have no full time firefighter cover at night.

Most fires happen at night, so these new proposals from NFRS are extremely concerning.

The busy M1 motorway, which is in the catchment area of Ashfield Fire Station, is used routinely by lorries carrying chemicals, driving during day and night time. An incident involving one of these vehicles would need a wholetime fire crew, and the nearest would be up to 20 minutes further away. These proposals really are dangerous, and they need to be reconsidered urgently.

The sole use of retained firefighters to provide fire cover is not sustainable or safe, I feel. I urge NFRS to rethink even considering these dangerous cost-cutting exercises, and more fundamentally, for central Government to now start investing properly in the fire and rescue service nationally instead of cutting it to the bone so that they aren’t faced with making these dreadful, unsafe decisions. I’ve talked with local members of the Fire Brigade Union and their supporters about this and will fight to stop the changes in Ashfield.

Talking of cuts the Chancellor announced the autumn budget last week. In my view this was a budget from an out-of-touch Government with no idea of the reality of people’s lives and no plan to improve them. Economic growth is the lowest it has been since the Tories came into office and the Budget confirms that failure, with growth and wage forecasts revised down every year of the forecast. If the Government cannot address the scale of the challenges facing our economy it should stand aside for a Labour government that will.

Also, the Chancellor announced the introduction of a new rail card for those under 30. Fine as far as it goes but most folk in Ashfield use the bus so where is the government funded discount for young people for bus travel?