Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Fire service chiefs want council's money - but fail to attend key meeting

Plaid Cymru campaigners at the forefront of last year's march to save our fire engine
A key Wrexham Council meeting to discuss proposed cuts to local fire services went ahead today WITHOUT the presence of anyone from the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service. 
This is despite the NWFRS expecting Wrexham Council, along with the five other councils in the North, to fund its service for the coming three years. It also wants the council to back cuts in service that will leave the borough with just one whole-time fire engine and lose 24 full-time firefighters' jobs.
 The all-member workshop had hoped to question senior officers from the Fire Service about the proposal to cut one of Wrexham's two whole-time fire appliances.
 There was a strong objection to the way the consultation was framed, with councillors expressing frustration that the same cuts were rejected clearly in last year's consultation and that this wasn't offering anything new. 
 Serious questions will now be posed for the NWFRS including:
• Why have they employed more senior officers while cutting frontline firefighters?
• Are the four senior fire officers - which cost £500,000 - needed when similar sized fire services make do on less?
• Has the NWFRS examined its vehicle purchasing policy?
• The failure to budget properly in the medium term has led to a shortfall that could have been avoided.
• Why was £600,000 moved from revenue accounts to the capital account, thus making the shortfall in the budget to run the service greater?
• Wrexham has 25% of all call-outs but not 25% of all appliances in the North. Can cuts be justified here?
• If these cuts go ahead, are there sufficient firefighters to operate specialist equipment such as the Aerial Ladder Platform based in Wrexham?

The point was also forcefully made that the new Ambulance and Fire centre in Wrexham has cost £15m, with £6m coming from the NWFRS. It has eight bays for fire appliances but, if the NWFRS has its way, could only have two fire engines to fill them!

NWFRS has done itself no favours today and there is growing resistance to any plan to cut the service in Wrexham.




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