You may have now heard Wallasey Fire Station has been granted a temporary reprieve from overnight closure that was due to start in September. To be clear, I opposed the overnight closure from the start and consistently campaigned against it.
It is a victory for firefighters, support staff, the Fire Brigades Union, the local trade union movement, party members, local councillors and the local community who were united in their opposition to the overnight closure.
This, however, is only a temporary reprieve whilst longer term solutions are drawn up. I will be writing to the Acting Chief Fire Officer for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) and the MFRS committee to seek further assurances on future funding. Along with parliamentary colleagues, I will continue to lobby the Conservative government for additional funding for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.
It cannot be right that, even with Wallasey Fire Station maintained on an overnight shift, fire engines have been cut from 42 to 22 since 2010. Firefighter numbers have also dropped from 927 to 580. This is due to the Tory Government cuts of 50% to the fire service. Cuts are already putting lives, and our brave firefighters, at risk.
It is now an all too familiar experience for our public services, particularly those that have devolved decision making, such as the Fire Authority and the Local Council. Tough decisions are being made on a daily basis, due to grant reductions from the Tory Government; they’re devolving responsibility without any of the funding. It is important to remember they have hit areas like ours, the Wirral and Merseyside, the hardest.
There’s still much we need to do to find a long-term solution to funding the Fire and Rescue Service we need, but for now I’d like to thank constituents for the support they have given to local unions and the community on this matter. By working together we have been able to achieve a positive result.