Paul Couchman, Save Our Services in Surrey secretary and Socialist Party member
After weeks of protesting, a massive demo outside the fire station, petitions and lobbies, Surrey council was forced to organise a public meeting to explain why it needed to axe Staines Fire Station.
When they realised that possibly a thousand people were going to turn up, angry and determined, and ready to come to the lobby organised for 23 February, they backed down and dropped plans to close the station.
This shows that serious and determined campaigning by a united community can win. The council still intends to close both our local stations when it opens the new one – with half the number of fire engines and firefighters.
Watch this space! The battle for Staines has been won, but there is still the overall war to save our fire services to win.
Some local Tory councillors and our local MP are belatedly trying to claim credit for the u-turn, but this is hard to stomach when they all belong to the same austerity-driven, neoliberal, anti-public sector Tory Party.
The credit for this victory belongs entirely to the firefighters and their supporters within the community who were prepared to stand up and be counted. Save Our Services in Surrey is proud to have been a part of that.