Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took time out of his busy schedule this week to meet with FBU members in Plymouth and hear first-hand the impact of budgets cuts.
In 2004 there were five full-time fire stations in Plymouth that could immediately deploy up to 50 firefighters to an incident. Fast forward to 2018 and, as a direct result of budget cuts, there are only 16 full-time firefighters available and full-time cover has been removed completely from Plymstock and Plympton fire stations.
The firefighters raised their concern about the lack of Government action to replace cladding, similar to the material used in Grenfell Tower, on three tower blocks in the city. The government has been aware of this for eight months now.
FBU official Tam McFarlane, who was at the meeting, said ‘It was great that Jeremy Corbyn took time out of a packed schedule to meet with Plymouth FBU members and listen to their concerns. Fire cover in the city has been almost halved due to Government funding cuts, placing the safety of firefighters and the public at risk. It is a national scandal that with the anniversary of the Grenfell disaster approaching there is still similar cladding in Tower Blocks here.”
Plymouth MP Luke Pollard, who arranged the meeting, added “It was very important to have firefighters explain to Jeremy what fire cuts in Plymouth mean in practice. This an issue I have been working closely with the FBU to highlight and I have raised my concerns direct with the Home Secretary in Parliament. I have also been demanding action on the issue of cladding on Tower Blocks in the Mount Wise area of the City. The government is failing the people of Devonport by refusing to help with the costs of recladding the tower blocks. There’s always enough money for tax cuts for the rich, but when it comes to helping some of the poorest communities in the country with these essential fire safety measures there’s no money to be found. It is time for an end to Tory austerity”