Fife fire cuts: MSP calls for urgent meeting between Kingdom's MSPs and the Scottish Government over proposals
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Labour MSP Alex Rowley has written to the Minister for Victims and Community Safety Siobhian Brown requesting an urgent meeting with all Fife MSPs to discuss proposals which would see four fire stations lose an appliance. Under the plans Dunfermline would lose its third appliance (a combined aerial rescue platform); Glenrothes and Methil would lose their second pumps and Kirkcaldy would lose its height appliance.
The controversial cuts have been met with opposition as thousands of members of the public have signed a petition against them and the proposals have been condemned by local politicians, firefighters and the Fire Brigades Union.
Mr Rowley, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “People across Fife have been getting in touch stating how worried they are about these cuts, and rightly so. There has been a complete abdication of responsibility from the current SNP Government who are determined to pass the blame for these cuts on to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service as well as contradictory claims of these being ‘temporary cuts’ which do not add up when what firefighters themselves are reportedly being told are permanent changes.
"I am also disappointed that there has been no local discussion before these proposals were announced. It is wrong to impose cuts of this magnitude to our local fire service without thorough local consultation. It is vital that we have a full consultation to discuss the proposals and understand the actual impact of these cuts on Fife communities before any action is taken. I have written to all representatives in Fife asking them to join the campaign to stop the cuts to our fire services in Fife and hope they all support that call.
"The response to date from the SNP Government has been woeful hiding behind what they call operational decisions which is complete nonsense. When the SNP centralised these services we were assured there would continue to be local involvement, and now, we are being told this is an operational decision and nothing to do with us or the communities we represent despite the fact they are proposing to decimate Fife services.”
John McKenzie FBU Scottish Secretary said: “The cuts being made in Fife will see a huge reduction in fire cover, with three of the current eleven wholetime appliances cut and one of the current two height appliances. The cuts being proposed will remove fire cover from across Fife and will categorically increase the risk local communities and firefighters face.
“These cuts are the result of decisions made by the Scottish Government, with over a decade of real terms budget cuts forced upon the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service which has seen 1100 firefighter jobs lost and £57 million of real terms cuts forced on our service since 2013. We are seeking support from councillors, MSPs and MPs from all parties for our call for the Scottish Government to provide the SFRS with the budget required to keep all our communities safe.”
The fire service has said public safety remains its top priority, and the proposals to cut appliances from ten stations across Scotland would have the least impact.
David Farries, assistant chief officer with responsibility for service delivery, said the region would not be left with a poorer service come September 5, and spoke of the significant challenges facing the organisation. He also rejected suggestions the Kingdom was being “disproportionately hit” with three of the ten cuts coming at stations here.