Huppert demands greater government clarity over fire funding
April 27, 2012
Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert has demanded greater clarity from the government over its future funding plans for the county’s cash-strapped fire service.
He has asked for a meeting with Bob Neill, Minister for Communities and Local Government to which he intends to invite Cambridgeshire and Peterborough MPs in a bid to get information which will allow informed decisions to be made about resources.
And on Monday (April 30) Julian will ask Mr Neill, during Questions in the House of Commons ‘what discussions he has had on funding for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority’.
He is worried that emergency fire cover could be at risk over the next four years if more than the already planned £4.2 million savings are required.
Julian visited Cambridge Fire Station recently and met with firefighters on White Watch. He also discussed the planned changes in government funding with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Chief Fire Officer.
He told Mr Neill in a letter that there are specific concerns over the impact of the cuts on the county’s large retained service and warned that costs may not be able to be reduced without significant fire station closures.
“In particular, this could result in a significant reduction of services in rural areas,” he told Mr Neill. “As a result, just a few hundred thousand pounds could make the difference between large station closures now, and the retention of adequate services in the long term.”
Julian added later: “It is absolutely crucial that the fire service has a clear idea of the government’s funding plans over the next few years but, at the moment that information is not coming through. Without being able to take a broader view of this issue it is extremely difficult to make decisions on the ground.
“I am very worried that long-term plans to reduce funding could lead to the downgrading or closure of fire stations, a reduction in fire-fighters and fire appliances and increase in emergency response times. This could have a serious impact in rural areas and the city resulting in a loss of service.”