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Liberal Democrats concerned at fire service cuts

September 19, 2015 9:50 AM

Papers released for next week's meeting of the Leicester and Leicestershire Combined Fire Authority include a number of significant budget savings. If implemented they will result in the closure of Kibworth and the Central Fire Station in Leicester and removal of 11 crewed fire engines across the county.

Local Liberal Democrats are extremely concerned about the plans to remove one of the two fire engines based at Market Harborough and the closure of the fire Station at Kibworth which fire chiefs say would be sold. The proposals also include removing the fire engine from Billesdon Station and replacing it with a tactical response vehicle.

Former fire officer Cllr Roger Dunton said:

"These plans, if approved by councillors on the combined fire authority, would remove three fire engines serving Market Harborough and the surrounding rural area to the north. I am shocked at the severity of these cuts and the impact they will have on Harborough District.

"As one of the three blue light services it is vital that our fire and rescue service has the capacity to adequately respond to emergency situations that can arise. I am concerned that these proposals will significantly increase the risk of the service not being able to respond to a major incident or being dependent on fire engines having to be sent from surrounding areas."

Lib Dem Leader on the County Council, Simon Galton, said:

"The Liberal Democrats are concerned that these decisions are being made without proper scrutiny as the Fire Authority's scrutiny committee was abolished in May as part of streamlining the decision making process.

"Any public body making decisions which affect the population of the whole of Leicester and Leicestershire needs proper scrutiny to hold public servants to account and prevent bad decisions being made. We are calling on Tory and Labour councillors who supported getting rid of the scrutiny committee to restore the process so these proposals can be properly scrutinised."

Cllr Phil Knowles, who is leader of the Liberal Democrats on Harborough District Council and the Liberal Democrat East Midlands Regional Vice Chairman echoed the concerns.

He said:

"In Harborough and the surrounding area we are seeing and will be seeing a huge increase in the number of homes. Cutting frontline services in this way would be a huge worry to everyone. Harborough would see significant questions raised about the coverage level and for Leicestershire as a whole the changes proposed will, I am sure, see residents from across the county registering their objections."