Firefighters lobby MPs over cuts

By Charles Maggs

Firefighters from across the country came to lobby parliament today amid fears over cuts to jobs and services.

They are worried that funding cuts to local authorities will be passed on to fire services, which Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack believes will mean more job losses.

"In the first year of the cuts 1500 fire-fighter jobs went, and we believe that if this carries on we could see another 6,000 jobs go over the next few years," he told

"In west Yorkshire there are plans to cut the number of fire stations in half."

There are 57 local fire authorities across the country and it is likely that most, if not all, will face some cuts in their budgets next year.

"David Cameron on the eve of the election came to a fire station in Carlisle and said we need to protect front line services – and that hasn't proved to be the case," Wrack added.

But Conservative MP Heather Wheeler argued that cuts of some kind are inevitable.

"I met with the FBU boys from my constituency (South Derbyshire) earlier today and they told me about what a good job the chief fire operator had done in re-jigging the budget," she told at the firefighters' lobby in parliament.

"It a huge task to take five per cent per year for four years out of the budget but they were really impressed and their working really well."

She defended the government's record in the face of budget tightening.

"People need to wake up and smell the coffee, just like crime going down ten per cent, were working hard with preventative work making sure people don't have as many fires," she added.

However with as much as 80% of government cuts planned for this parliament yet to kick in, there may be more confrontation ahead.