Fire service cuts

The Coalition Government’s cuts led to fire station closures and a reduction in full-time staff – which went directly against their promise that there would be no cuts to frontline services. Many firefighters, the Fire Brigades Union and the wider public are understandably concerned about further cuts announced the other week in the Tory government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

The commitment and courage of firefighters on the front line is vital in saving lives, minimising harm, protecting property and promoting safety in our local community and across the country. I’ve seen this first-hand with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

The fire and rescue service have adapted to previous cuts with their usual dedication and professionalism but I am aware of concerns, highlighted by the FBU campaign Save our Fire and Rescue Service, that further cuts of up to 40 per cent over the next five years could lead to more station closures and job losses.

As a frontbench spokesperson I am unable to sign Early Day Motions, such as EDM 513, which calls for there to be no further cuts to the fire and rescue service. However, I have raised this many times with Ministers and convened a meeting with the fire service and all Merseyside MPs.

However, I also have wider concerns about the Government’s very significant cuts to local government, which are falling disproportionately on areas of greatest need.

That is why my Front Bench colleagues opposed the Government’s financial settlement for local councils in England when it was debated in the House of Commons earlier this year.

I am disturbed by the announcement in the last few days about what the cuts to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service are going to mean for us locally. I will do all I can to challenge the government over their dreadful decision.