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2nd Jul, 2022

Cost-cutting plans to axe retained firefighters scrapped

PLANS to axe retained firefighters in Stratford have been scrapped.

The ruling Conservatives on Warwickshire County Council were considering the move, along with the crew at Coleshill, as part of cost-cutting plans to save around £200,000.

But the plans faced fierce opposition from opposition councillors and the Fire Brigades Union, who feared the move could cost lives.

Following the criticism, Tory council leader Izzi Seccombe said the crew would be retained, along with a second fire engine in the town, to serve ‘the growing population’.

Lib Dem county councillor Dominic Skinner said he was delighted by the news to keep the town’s retained firefighters – who are not based in fire stations, but who carry a pager ready to respond to any emergency.

He added: “All three of the Lib Dem county councillors in Stratford have worked together to fight this.

“We have forced the Conservatives to rethink and ultimately now change their minds.

“The idea of cutting the crew further demonstrates just how out of touch the Conservatives are with the needs of local residents.

“The role our retained crew play in keeping our community safe is so important. These are professional firefighters who do this role part time, all while holding down full time careers. With Stratford and it’s surrounding villages only continuing to grow in terms of additional housing, we need a fire service that is properly resourced to meet this demand.

“This U-turn proves again that the Conservative led administrations at district and county level are not working together. It is ultimately local residents who suffering from this disconnected approach to local government.”

The Conservatives initially proposed cutting around £1.5million from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s budget.

That has now been cut by more than 50 per cent. The lower savings target of some £669,000 targets reductions to the pension budget, health and safety services and changes to fleet maintenance.

The council is also set to look at saving through reductions to full-time posts.

The changes would be introduced over the next two years.

The county council budget decisions will be set on February 7.

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