Mansfield councillor defends vote to axe town fire engine

Mansfield Fire Station.
Mansfield Fire Station.

A Mansfield councillor who voted to axe one of two fire engines at Mansfield Fire Station has defended his actions, saying the decision made ‘common sense’.

Coun Steve Garner, who sits on Nottinghamshire Fire Authority, has come under pressure from the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) who criticised him for agreeing with recommendations to lose the retained appliance, leaving the Mansfield to be covered by just one full-time pump.

County Elections, Mansfield Civic Centre 2013.''Steve Garner, South Mansfield, Mansfield Independent Forum Councillor.

County Elections, Mansfield Civic Centre 2013.''Steve Garner, South Mansfield, Mansfield Independent Forum Councillor.

The decision was taken on Friday as part of cost-cutting measures and followed months of consultation.

As a result of Mansfield losing it’s second pump, Warsop Fire Station will now remain open.

Coun Garner said: “Everybody voted the same way, it made common sense. It’s not to get rid of it, but to mothball it for a year.

“If they closed Warsop, it would be for good, but they are going to look at Mansfield’s situation again next year.

“Every aspect was looked and it was the officers’ recommendations, they know the job. Difficult decisions have to be made, and this was unanimous.

“I could have voted against it, but it would have still gone through.

“It was the right decision with the money available.”

Coun Garner said the retained engine had not been used at Mansfield for the past year, and claims prior to that had struggled to man the pump on call outs.

But Sean McCallum, chairman of the Nottinghamshire FBU is angry that Coun Garner voted in favour of the proposals.

He said: “I was staggered that a member of the council elected by the people of Mansfield raised his hand.

“He has offered no scrutiny at all and made no attempt to engage with ourselves to seek a broader perspective of what was happening.

“Instead of fighting for his own, he put his hand up to vote against us.

“He should be fighting tooth and nail to keep it. It’s extremely disappointing.”

In addition to Mansfield losing a pump and Warsop station remaining open, a second pump will be lost at Beeston.

Up to 32 jobs are at risk in total, but no compulsory redundancies are expected with savings made through the retirement of current firefighters.

The service says it needs to cut £2.4m to balance its books, but the FBU are adamant that cutting frontline services is simply putting lives at risk.

“To me, any loss of a fire engine is devastating, we are there to provide a service to the community that should not be taken lightly,” added Sean McCallum.

“What it means is that Nottinghamshire’s second largest populated area is going to be served by just one appliance.

“They will have to have cover from Warsop, Edwinstowe or Ashfield, and there’s an issue of safety for the public and firefighters.

“If there’s a house fire with people trapped, we need three crews and they’re going to have to come from outside of Mansfield and that takes time.

“That’s a very dangerous situation to be in, can we effectively perform a rescue with just the one engine?”

Meanwhile, Coun Phil Shields, who sits Warsop Parish Council, was overjoyed with the decision to keep the town’s station open.

He said: “ It’s brilliant, it’s what everybody wanted and they should be listening to what people want.

“There was a petition and everybody played their part. We’ll keep fighting this if it comes up again.”