Huppert optimistic about positive outcome on fire service funding
June 22, 2012
MP Julian Huppert is cautiously optimistic that the government will come up with a funding package for the county’s fire service to prevent further cuts which would hit the emergency front-line.
His hopes for a positive outcome to the service’s funding crisis came after a meeting with the Fire Minister, Bob Neill yesterday (Thursday, June 21).
Julian met Mr Neill with Cambridgeshire’s Chief Fire Officer, Graham Stagg and Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland to discuss the future of the service.
“Mr Neill listened very carefully to the case that we made, and although he couldn't be specific, he hinted there could be some better news for Cambridgeshire,” said Julian.
“He fully accepted that the fire authority is the least expensive per resident in the country. He congratulated both management and staff on protecting front-line services while making the very substantial savings they have made. And he accepted that, with the savings that have already been made, it becomes harder to look for more.
“He said that the government would shortly be consulting on funding and that, while he couldn’t make any promises, he encouraged the people of Cambridgeshire to make a positive response. Mr Neill said he was encouraged by the work being done in Cambridge.
“This was a very positive meeting with Mr Neill taking on board the situation that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire and Rescue Service finds itself in and the huge amount of hard work that has taken place to protect emergency fire cover.
“No-one is saying there shouldn’t be any savings but if we go further we will start to affect the front line. I am hoping that Mr Neill will take our concerns back to the government and make sure that Cambridgeshire’s grant is not cut to a level where damaging cuts to the front- line would be inevitable.”
Nigel Bell, Liberal Democrat Leader on Cambridgeshire Fire Authority said: "I sincerely hope the Minister has taken on board the problems we face and that we receive a fair grant settlement this year otherwise we will be facing a stark choice between raising Council Tax above inflation or making unacceptable cuts to the frontline."