Tory County leader Nick Rushton and Labour City Chef (rather chief) Soulsby share a glutinous appetite for destruction, as revealed by their efforts to ensure that the rest of us dine on their austere diet of cuts.
For Leicestershire’s Fire Services this means dishing up the following three course meal. For starters, the removal of 11 fire engines out of 30; for mains, the closure of two Fire Stations; and for dessert, the loss of 194 of the current 650 firefighters employed in the region (July 16, Leicester Mercury).
Tories and Labour alike are content with their tried-and-tasted recipe of impoverishment for the 99% and engorgement for the 1%. The instructions for preparing this platter are simple, as they are sickening:
- Take one functioning (albeit serially underfunded) public service.
- Withdraw a sizeable portion of Government funding.
- Ensure you thoroughly crumble the democracy of the local authority structures overseeing service provision.
- Rub employees up the wrong way by ignoring their views.
- Consult with the public on pre-baked undemocratic decisions.
- Dispose of unfavourable consultation results.
- Repeat steps 2-6 until public services have reduced (in the case of fire services to a wafer-thin security blanket).
- Bemoan the increase in public deaths (and, in this instance, firefighter deaths) caused by the evisceration of public services.
- Privatise the profitable portions of any remnants.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) however have been vocal in their demands that the safety of the 99% should not be sacrificed because cordon bleu elites refuse to pay their way in society. Our fire services needs more resources, not less!
Last year FBU chairman Graham Vaux explained: “We’re a lean fire service as it is and we’ve got no resources – these are absolutely desperate times and any cuts will be devastating” (June 2014, Mercury). Now the current proposed cuts are even more extreme than those already carried through by last years so-called ‘consultation.’
Last Thursday (on September 24) the FBU, and outraged members of the public, turned up in force at a Combined Fire Authority meeting in Birstall to ask that the elected members of the Authority listen to reason.
Speaking directly to the decision-makers during the meeting, the FBU politely gave many good reasons why the members should refuse to allow the “dangerous proposals to go out to public consultation.”
Yet despite this plea for reason, the majority of Labour Party representatives (under the guidance of Chief Soulsby, who is the new vice chair of the Authority) voted with the Tories to embrace the lies of austerity, and ignore the firefighters.* Disgustingly, just two County Labour Councillors opposed the proposals, along with three Lib Dem’s, with a total of eleven Tory and Labour Councillors voting for the cuts.
The wheels of the ‘consultation’ have therefore been set in progress. And, so given few other options, for the time being the FBU are encouraging people to attend local public consultation events and to complete a questionnaire (obtained from the Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s web site http://www.leicestershire-fire.gov.uk/irmp) in order to “VOTE AGAINST THESE HORRENDOUS CUTS!”And of course they want as many people as possible to come along to support any future protests they will be organising.
As the FBU put it: “YOURS AND YOUR FAMILIES LIVES MIGHT JUST DEPEND ON IT.”
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on 25th September.
*The Labour Party councillors who voted with Sir Peter Soulsby to destroy Leicestershire’s Fire Services were: Harshad Bhavsar (Abbey ward – and recent supporter of Liz Kendall’s leadership campaign), Kulwinder Singh Johal (Braunstone Park and Rowley Fields, and recent supporter of Yvette Cooper’s leadership campaign), Aminur Thalukdar (Stoneygate ward), and Deepak Bajaj (Evington ward).