Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Wrexham council re-affirms opposition to cutting fire engine

Wrexham Council has re-affirmed its "vehement" opposition to proposals by North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority to cut one of the town's two whole-time fire engines and 24 firefighters' jobs.

Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones asked two questions of the new council executive board in advance of the fire authority reconvening to discuss this proposal.
1. Can the council exec board re-affirm its opposition to proposals to axe 24 full-time firefighters' jobs and one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire engines, noting that the consultation incorrectly describes the town as having three when one is currently off the road due to insufficient part-time staffing?

2. What steps is the council taking to work with the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority to ensure it has sufficient funding to continue the level of service in the Wrexham area - will it insist that the NWFRA re-examines its own senior staffing arrangements and spending commitments prior to any cuts to frontline services?
The response from Cllr Hugh Jones on behalf of the executive board re-affirmed the council's opposition to the planned cut and also confirmed that the council would be holding a workshop on the matter for all councillors next month.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Marc Jones said he was glad the council had expressed its opposition so clearly and unequivocally: 
"It's clear that this would be a dangerous and retrograde step, especially in light of the Grenfell disaster in London and the need to ensure we have an emergency service that has the capacity to cope with the worst possible scenarios. 
"As the Fire Authority is financed by the six local councils across the region, I felt it was important that our council challenges the Fire Authority to explain why it is cutting this vital frontline service when it is top-heavy in terms of senior officers and has transferred funds from its revenue account to its capital account in the last budget. This is money that could be spent on retaining the current level of service.  
"However, I would also point out that years of Tory cuts and austerity have created a situation where our emergency services are struggling to deliver what is needed. Any opposition to this immediate threat to our fire service has to be seen in that context and we need to broaden the campaign to challenge the ideology that's destroying important public services."

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