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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

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Victory as fire crews save engine

WHITEHAVEN Fire Station will NOT lose its second engine, it has been announced.

Whitehaven Fire Station: A threatened cut to a second fire engine has been stayed

Following intense campaigning and public support for the firefighters, Cumbria county councillors decided to scale back cuts to the fire service.

Fire crews have hailed a county council U-turn as a “victory”.

There had been public outrage after proposals were outlined to remove the second fire engine from Whitehaven, as well as Workington, Maryport, Kendal and Penrith stations. About 16,000 people objected to the proposals.

The £540,000 of savings the move to scrap the second fire appliances would have helped achieve will now be made through management changes within the fire service.

Graeme Higgins, Fire Brigades Union secretary in Cumbria, said: “This is a victory for the communities of Cumbria, as firefighters now know we will be more able to keep the public — and ourselves — safer.

“The campaign demonstrates that when firefighters and local people stand together, we can make a difference and fight the devastating cuts that are taking place across the country.

A local firefighter said: “If not for the public outcry the service would have been severely weakened.

“It’s so disappointing that our own managers stayed silent throughout and were prepared to let the cuts go through unopposed.”

Reacting to the decision, Cumbria county councillors, Mike Hawkins, for Mirehouse, and Christine Wharrier, for Hillcrest and Hensingham, said they were delighted at the Cabinet’s decision not to cut the number of Whitehaven’s fire appliances.

Coun Hawkins, chair of the county council’s communities and place committee, said: “As a councillor I have heard both sides to the proposals. I have listened to the council and the fire officers and firefighters. We are pleased that Cabinet has listened to the concerns and I’m happy with the outcome.”

Coun Wharrier added: “I think there was the view that everyone had to make a saving. There is a difference to someone making a saving and the health and safety issues.

“The removal of the second engine would have put people’s lives in our area at risk, as long with others across the county also affected.

“It was put forward as a proposal and I’m pleased that the Cabinet listened. It’s a brilliant decision.”

Councillor Barry Doughty, the Cabinet member responsible for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The fire and rescue service is one of the council’s life or death services, so I’ve not been surprised that our proposals generated a high level of public interest.

“At a time when we hear so many stories about public apathy, it’s been encouraging to see local people making their voices heard.

“The original consultation proposals to remove the second pump from five stations acknowledged the significant reductions in all incidents across Cumbria in recent years.

“As well as the evidence though, our job as Cabinet members was to make sure public confidence is also taken into account,’’ he said.

“Cabinet has listened carefully to views put forward during the consultation and has concluded, despite the huge impact of the service’s fire prevention work, not to proceed with the changes as originally proposed.

“As a result, we have dropped proposals to remove the second pumps from Penrith, Workington, Whitehaven, Kendal and Maryport.

“This consultation has generated a huge amount of public feedback and I’d like to commend people on the time and effort they have put in to participating.”

Have your say

This is the right decision and great news for Cumbria.
Though it seems questionable why this situation came about in the first place, the article states that savings would now be made through management changes within the service.
So let me get this right, the options at the beginning were to make changes within the management structure or reduce the number of emergency vehicles. Management fearing for the loss of their jobs went for the latter, (you couldn't make it up).
So well done the 16,000 people who put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to register their objection. It may not be perfect, but democracy works.
In the words of 'Wolfie Smith'"Power To The People", (gratuitous 70's reference, ask your parents).

Posted by John Mooney on 9 February 2014 at 18:02

I would to thank everyone who signed the Petitions, for every area affected. It was good to see the Community and members of the public gave their support to our cause against these ridiculous proposals. Good to see common sense prevailed in the end.

Posted by Firefighter on 6 February 2014 at 11:36

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