Every Labour MP in Greater Manchester has written to the incoming Fire Minister urging them to stop the cuts to the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, as part of the upcoming Spending Review process.
In a letter to Mayor Andy Burnham, signed by all 27 GM Labour MPs, they welcome the Mayor’s decision to defer plans to reduce funding for GM Fire Service and argue for an increase to the budget from government in the Spending Review, when it comes.
MPs have a number of concerns with the proposals as they stand, particularly:
- Plans to change the number of fire fighters riding appliances from five to four;
- The reduction in the number of pumps overall; and
- Proposals to close some fire stations.
In the letters to Mayor Burnham and the Fire Minister they warn that the plans could potentially put lives at risk given the large number of high rise blocks in our conurbation; ongoing issues with fire safety and the cladding of buildings post-Grenfell; the terrorist threat level, and learning following the Manchester Arena attack; the serious fires we have seen on moorland across Greater Manchester; and the recent serious house fire in Walkden.
The MPs go on to offer Andy Burnham their help in pressing the government to increase resources given the large cuts to fire budgets due to austerity cuts from the Conservative government. And in their first day on the job, MPs have written to the new Fire Minister calling on them to champion fire service investment.
They challenge the Minister for the terrible record of austerity which has seen huge reductions in the fire service budget, express their concerns about fire service budgets and urge the Minister to invest in services in Greater Manchester so that the Conservative government’s austerity programme can be reversed. They argue that this is a moral imperative, not a political choice given the challenges we face.
The MPs, including Bury’s James Frith, say in a joint statement:
“It is our strong view that government has a moral imperative to ensure sufficient budgets for fire services in Greater Manchester. Fire fighters believe the service has been decimated in the last 10 years as a result of government cuts, with the loss of 1,000 fire fighter jobs, appliance, and the replacement of a local control room in Pendlebury, for one serving the entire north west in Warrington. We agree. Austerity means that we now have half the firefighters in Manchester than we had 10 years ago.
“The cuts we have seen in the last decade come at a time when demand on the service is growing. The gross failure of the government to remedy dangerous cladding, means thousands of Manchester residents are living in unsafe, non-fire regulation compliant buildings.
“The challenges facing GM Fire Service, from post-Grenfell fire safety in clad buildings, moorland fires across Greater Manchester, the response to the Manchester Arena attack and the terrorist threat level, mean that investment in the fire service should not be a political choice but a moral imperative.”