LETTER: ‘Plans are misguided and potentially another government disaster’
This is both misguided and potentially another government disaster in terms of the amount of time and public money it would eat up at a time when both services just want to deliver as high a quality a service as they can to their public, bring in innovation, bring in new and streamlined control mechanisms and protect those they serve.
I served as a lead councillor on both the Cambridgeshire protective services committee, the Cambridgeshire Fire Authority for 20 years and our annual agenda was constantly set by ministers interfering - and by the demand of budgets to be trimmed and trimmed again.
So the issue of ‘improving efficiency’ Mrs May was always in front of us as Councillors elected by our wards - our local people, we brought in one of the few Joint control rooms for fire here in Cambridgeshire mobilising crews from both Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
We were partners in procurement of new fire appliances with colleagues in Bedfordshire and Essex - the latest seven new heavy rescue pumps in these two services are now going on station - better design, better individual cost and better equipped.
Two new high rise multi-purpose fire appliances in collaboration with several other services were designed and after a few ‘blips’ form a useful part of the Cambridgeshire fleet.
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IT systems were improved and closer working with other fire services elsewhere saw helpful and cost effective systems put in place.
Statistics are always a two edged sword, when you are dealing frequently with life and death scenarios at the frontline - data is not the priority having good equipment, good training and the availability of motivated staff is.
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Perhaps Mrs May would be much better deployed in helping fire And rescue services find a better way of getting local villages and towns involved in ensuring their fire appliance can be crewed - especially during the day thereby providing more protection rather than tinkering with a service which is not a crime fighter but a community driven prevention and response service accountable to the community and spending per head approximately a pint of milk per person per week and what’s more can be seen doing its job not least on an increasingly busy and dangerous network of roads in the county.
Work together where you can - but don’t break what isn’t broken and let fire and rescue keep its well earned and deserved reputation with the public.
Lately Lib Dem group leader
Cambridgeshire Fire Authority