Firefighters in fire kit

Lobbying works says Cheshire FBU as it secures a string of victories

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Cheshire were left in high spirits this week after the fire authority rejected a number of proposals to cut local fire services; even going as far as to re-examine decisions made seven years earlier.

Authority members suspended plans to downgrade appliances at Crewe and Ellesmere Port to retained duties, as well as plans to downgrade an appliance at Penketh to day duty only.

At Macclesfield fire station, where an aerial appliance was under threat of being withdrawn, authority members agreed to look at procuring an alternative model that could respond to a wider array of emergencies. The decisions will be reviewed in 12 months’ time.

The concerns from the FBU put to the authority created such an impact that councillors also voted to review the previous decision to remove an appliance from Chester, and call for a review into Wilmslow fire station over the decision to downgrade its appliance that took place seven years ago.

Andrew Fox-Hewitt, secretary of the FBU in Cheshire, said he was ‘astounded’ at the result and says weeks of intensive lobbying had paid off.

“We gave presentations to both Labour and Conservative groups on the authority as well as local MPs and councillors, and worked on costings for safer alternatives. All of the work we undertook was worth it with the concessions made this week. We made great use of our officials, members, affiliates on trades councils, and retired and out of trade members who are passionate about the service and have a wealth of knowledge at hand.

“We know the fight isn’t over – it never is – but these are great successes we should be proud of, and we hope the positive dialogue with the fire authority will continue as we look to work together to improve the service.”

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