Fires are a hot topic at the moment. Even Liz Kendall, after much pressure, has reluctantly climbed aboard the fire brigade bandwagon by calling a public meeting on the matter (this Friday, 5pm at New College in New Parks).
Gavin Lynch, chair of the Fire Brigade Union in Leicestershire, quickly responded on facebook writing:
“After MASSIVE pressure from the FBU and Western Station Firefighters and the public, we FINALLY SEE Liz Kendall respond to our SERIOUS PUBLIC SAFETY CONCERNS, 2 years in the making.”
In another recent shock announcement, Councillor Patrick Kitterick, who is the chairman of Leicester City Council’s Labour group, revealed, at last months Overview Select Committee meeting, his serious concerns about the combustibility of our city’s many derelict listed-buildings.
On numerous occassions he’d been asked by fire officers if the Council had any idea of buildings that are vulnerable to fire in Leicester? Kitterick, who until earlier this year had served as the chairman of the Council’s planning committee, explained:
“And my advice was look at a listed-building where the owner wants planning permission; and I don’t wish to make any implications about any of the owners of listed-buildings, but do you know what, they tend to set on fire.
“You can look at the Highcross Brewery, not saying anything about the owners, you can look at Friars Mill, and indeed I remember the incident a few years ago now, I believe it was Bob Miller, that was a listed-building, it was a derelict large listed-building.”
Bob Miller was a local firefighter, who tragically died while tackling a blaze at a derelict factory, in Morledge Street, on October 31, 2002. He was also the first firefighter to be killed in service in Leicestershire for 25 years.
Funding to the fire and rescue service has already been slashed by a massive 30% during the course of the last parliament. 7,000 frontline jobs have been lost, with one in eight firefighter jobs already gone.
Now, as the FBU point out, “Further cuts of up to 40% are being planned over the next five years.”
Among all their other work in publicizing the danger of making such callous cuts, the FBU has been calling upon all MP’s to support an parliamentary motion (EDM 513) to oppose further cuts to the funding of our fire services. But sadly, not one of the 60 signatories garnered so far sire from Leicester!
Enough is enough. Now is the time for the people of Leicester to rally behind the providers of all of our nation’s vital public services, in order to organise the necessary political action that can bring an end to “our” government’s dangerous criminality.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on November 3, 2015.
Rob Williams, chair of the National Shop Stewards Network, speaking in London on Monday.