Fire chiefs are again looking at closing Manea fire station – and MP Steve Barclay is furious they never mentioned it to him.

MP Steve Barclay

MP Steve Barclay - Credit: Archant

Fire chiefs are again looking at closing Manea fire station – and MP Steve Barclay is furious they never mentioned it to him.

Four years after he joined the fight to save the village fire station, the proposal is part of a streamlining package now under consideration.

Mr Barclay said he met fire chiefs – including the chairman Sir Peter Brown- at the House of Commons two weeks after it had been discussed by the fire authority. They never mentioned it.

“At no point during that meeting did they mention making a decision to propose closure of Manea fire station and withdrawal of second pumps at March and Wisbech

“I find it staggering that this significant proposal was not mentioned particularly when I referred during the meeting to my previous campaign to save Manea fire station.”

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He had other concerns about the costs of running the fire authority – over procurement of vehicles and back office costs- and he would be seeking “urgent clarifications why such an important proposal with life threatening implications for my constituents was not referred to at the House of Commons meeting”.

The fire authority is considering an ‘options appraisal’ that is also looking at possibly contracting Manea fire station for evening and weekly only cover and the removal of on-call second pumps at March fire station.

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The comprehensive bundle of proposals has been outlined to fire authority members by deputy chief fire officer Neil Newberry.

He told the authority that “despite following up on numerous recommendations and making many changes to the on-call service, it continues its journey of terminal decline”.

Mr Newberry believes the county as a whole is experiencing similar problems to other forces over the recruitment and retention of staff which impacts on the availability of appliances and the sustainability of the service.

In Cambridgeshire he says the service have numerous fire appliances unavailable at certain times – peaking at 18 – and are forced to use neighbouring appliances for cover.

Ironically the force is losing staff (it requires a full time equivalent of 352 on call staff and currently has 260) “due to a reduction in incidents being attended.”

Now a project has been set up, he says, to look at requirements for the next 20 years and alternative methods of cover need to be considered.

Reports from a recent fire authority meeting show some members were concerned that a lack of appliances undermanned public confidence.

Some also felt Mr Newberry was being “too negative” in the general tone of his report and another member felt communities should be consulted.

However a report from the fire authority says that “officers stressed that there the whole point of developing business cases was to assess whether they were viable. Full consultation would always take place where the impact was deemed to be significant, such as for a station closure.”

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