Planned fire service cuts 'irresponsible and unfair'
By Sutton Coldfield Observer | Friday, August 03, 2012, 09:20
"RECKLESS" cuts to funding at West Midlands Fire Service could cost lives, according to the MP for Erdington.
Jack Dromey MP said Government ministers must face the "bleak reality" that people might die that could have lived, and houses and businesses might burn that could otherwise have been saved if "unfair cuts" to metropolitan fire brigades are carried out.
West Midlands Fire Brigade faces the biggest cut of any fire service in the country, with £9.2 million being slashed from budgets (7.73 per cent of its spending power) from 2011 to 2013 as detailed in the 2011 Comprehensive Spending Review.
The Erdington MP said that while metropolitan brigades, including the West Midlands, face the heaviest cuts, others in the country will receive an increase in funding, with Hampshire Fire Service due to receive a £1.79 million – or 2.64 per cent – increase.
Mr Dromey, Labour's Shadow Housing Minister, said: "The Government should back our fire service, not sack our firefighters.
"That's what communities in Birmingham and across the West Midlands expect, that their safety and security comes first.
"The West Midlands Fire Service is second to none with an outstanding track record of saving lives and dealing with serious fires, car crashes and fire prevention.
"But this proud record cannot continue if the Government pushes ahead with irresponsible and unfair spending cuts that put at risk life, limb and property in Birmingham and across the West Midlands.
"It cannot be right that cities with more people and more buildings, that are closer together and are at greater risk, are losing money to protect against the devastating risk of fire, while rural counties are seeing their fire budgets increase."
Metropolitan brigades' budgets have been cut at twice the national average compared to forces across the country, Mr Dromey said.
If the existing formula is applied again for 2013/14 and 2014/15, the West Midland's would face a further reduction in grant of 27 per cent.
This would result in up to 11 fire stations across the West Midlands having to be closed, 600 firefighters forced out and see the West Midlands lose a further £21.8 million.