Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/522/3834
Fight Devon and Somerset fire cuts
DEVON AND Somerset Fire Authority are putting pennies before public safety by adopting plans to cut 24 firefighters' jobs from Barnstaple, Exeter and Torquay.
Jim Lowe, Devon Socialist Party
They are also introducing dual-crewing of all aerial platforms in Devon. So, if another large fire broke out like that in Ilfracombe, firefighters would have to choose whether to take an engine OR an aerial platform.
Devon and Somerset Fire Authority blame the cuts on the government reducing their funds. However, the Fire Brigades Union put forward proposals enabling the authority to save money while maintaining services. The Fire Authority ignored these proposals, which included reviewing senior management's salary levels. Chief Fire Officer Paul Young, on £135,000 a year, didn't support them.
Firefighters are furious. The Fire Authority has ignored their warnings and overwhelming public opposition to the cuts.
Barnstaple firefighter James Leslie told The Socialist: "There's a lot of anger at the plans, and a feeling that management have let down the public and firefighters". The Authority previously rejected plans to dual-crew aerial platforms due to the risk to the public, "but suddenly they're OK".
These cuts would put lives at risk. Devon Socialist Party will keep campaigning against them and will support action by the FBU, whose area Brigade Secretary Trevor French hints at strike action.
The NHS, schools and other essential public services are also facing huge cuts and the increasing involvement of private companies who are interested in profit, not people. We need united action by public sector unions to fight for 'public services not private profit' and also a party that will represent such a campaign politically.
In The Socialist 27 February 2008:
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