Fire service seeks to ease budget cut fears

Fenny Compton firefighters
Fenny Compton firefighters

Warwicksire Fire and Rescue Service is attempting to dispel fears that a £2.4 million budget cut over the coming two years will put residents in danger.

The service has launched a public consultation to address how the money can be saved, with key changes for the first £1.3 million phase of streamlining including removing 30 whole-time firefighter posts and one member of the strategic management team.

There could also be reductions in activities such as installation of smoke alarms in the home, which will no longer be fitted by frontline staff. Another change will see support stopped for the Young Firefighters’ Association.

Chief Fire Officer for Warwickshire, Andy Hickmott, said: “It is important that we approach this consultation calmly.

“We have closely examined the types of incidents that happen in Warwickshire, how we can best respond to them and how we can position the service to give the best response.

“I’m confident that the proposed changes will mean that by rethinking how we operate and introducing new ways of working that reflect peak demand, we are better equipped to deal with life-threatening emergencies and make the people of Warwickshire safer.”

Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio holder for community safety, Cllr Les Caborn added: “Whilst we would not pretend the changes to the service have not been driven in part by the need to make savings, we are confident that they will also make the county safer for all of Warwickshire’s residents.”

However, some residents have slammed the changes and the decision to hold public consultation meetings during the Easter break.

Shotteswell resident Val 
Ingram said: “Having been through one consultation only a few years ago, to be told they intend more cuts is abysmal.

“To arrange meetings in the Easter week is just unacceptable as a fair proportion of people could take an Easter break.”

She added: “The consultation is loaded to give the replies that they want.

“Why can only 80 per cent of Warwickshire have ten minute response times? What about the other 20 per cent?

“If they left the other 30 fire fighters and stopped closing stations we could all have ten-minute response times.”