We’ll fight “dangerous” budget cuts, say fire crews

CAMBRIDGESHIRE firefighters have warned that they “stand ready to respond with industrial action” if “dangerous” cuts are made to frontline services.

Fire Brigades Union Regional Secretary Adrian Clarke said the service’s decision to make planned reductions in anticipation of central government cuts “could not have come at a worse time for Cambridgeshire firefighters”.

Mr Clarke said crews had “already made personal sacrifices to maintain frontline 999 services” and had to cope with fewer firefighters employed to serve at frontline stations but said the latest proposals would “inevitably mean the public waiting longer when they dial 999”.

However, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said that many of the service reductions would only be implemented if the cuts are more severe than first thought.

Mr Strickland said: “The key thing to stress is that if the recommendations are agreed, the decisions can only be implemented if the results of the Government Spending Formula mean we have to make additional savings over and above the �4.2million we have already planned for.

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“This will enable us to act quickly - and crucially make the savings in time - if the cuts are more severe than first thought.”

The proposals include closing fire stations such as Manea, Burwell and Soham - but only if the financial settlement in December this year is over �4.2million.

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They will also move to a Five-Watch System and review non-operational services.

However the FBU says: “We remain wholly opposed to any frontline cuts.”

Mr Clarke believes the most vulnerable will be put at greatest risk if the cuts go ahead because “social deprivation and fire go hand-in-hand”.

“Only last week, fire crews reluctantly accepted the introduction of a new duty system with fewer firefighters employed overall to serve at frontline fire stations,” he said.

“In accepting the new duty system, fire crews made it absolutely clear we expect the Fire Authority to recognise their significant sacrifice in terms of their own working conditions, working hours and domestic arrangements.

“In return, we expect the Fire Authority to oppose any more frontline cuts.”

The decision over the budget cut will be made by the Fire Authority on Thursday (May 24).

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