Kerry McCarthy MP challenges fire service cuts

Three Bristol MPs have written an open letter to Brandon Lewis, the Home Office Minister responsible for the fire service, raising serious concerns about cuts to fire and rescue budgets.  The move follows the largest increase in deaths from fire-related incidents in twenty years.

Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West and Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, all signed a letter condemning the 10,000 frontline firefighter jobs lost since 2010. Avon Fire and Rescue Service, which covers Bristol, has already seen more than 150 frontline firefighter jobs go, and is set to lose another 49 under current plans.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, said:

“The government has slashed funding for our most important emergency services over the last few years. By pushing through further cuts, the government are failing to recognise the life-saving work which our firefighters do day-in day-out. The government must stop these cuts at once, and give our firefighters the resources they need to keep us safe.”

Welcoming the letter from the three MPs, Bristol firefighter Gary Spindler, who is a Fire Brigades Union (FBU) rep for Avon, said: “Kerry McCarthy, Thangam Debbonaire and Karin Smyth are reflecting the views of frontline firefighters that budget cuts have gone too far, a position that is supported by the majority of the Avon public. In the last few weeks we have collected over 2,000 petition signatures against further cuts being planned for Avon Fire & Rescue Service.

“It is time for the government to recognise the importance of our fire and rescue services, which save the lives of around 40,000 people each year. In addition to fires, firefighters regularly respond to traffic collisions, industrial accidents, medical emergencies, chemical spillages, terrorist incidents and civil disturbances. This government must now listen, and stop putting budget cuts ahead of public safety.”

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