After suffering from years of brutal cuts to our countries fire services Jeremy Corbyn has made a clear pledge to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) that a Labour government under his leadership would rebuild the fire service. In May last year the FBU reported:
“The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn addressed the 89th conference of the Fire Brigades Union on Friday 13 May 2016. Jeremy is a long standing supporter of the FBU and was a founding member of the union’s parliamentary group. Corbyn told conference delegates that he thought cuts to the fire service were wrong and that he was delighted the FBU had re-affiliated to the Labour Party in November.”
Hopefully this message of resistance to cuts will be heard by Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, who is the vice chair of the Leicestershire and Rutland Combined Fire Authority. This is because in 2015 Sir Peter played a key role in trying to ram through cuts to our local fire service that were only prevented because the FBU campaigned against the Fire Authorities misinformation with such vigour.
This background is important to comprehend as the new head of the Combined Fire Authority, Steve Lunn, is revisiting these previous plans to take the axe to our fire service provision. Mr Lunn already has some form on such matters as he was the second-in-command when his predecessor (Richard Chandler) attempted to “consult” on destroying Leicestershire’s fire safety in 2015.
Mr Lunn’s ridiculous proposal to close Central Fire Station was announced just a few days ago in the Leicester Mercury (June 30) in an article titled “Central fire station to Mansfield House police station.” The plan being to merge the fire station into the Mansfield police station: two for the price of one! Mr Lunn went on to explain to the Mercury:
“No decisions have been made and we will be looking to put proposals to the fire authority in September. We are looking at stuff we have never looked at before but we think this could be really good.”
Mr Lunn might want to think about early retirement if he really thinks that closing Leicester’s main fire station might be “really good.” Furthermore, prior to making this announcement to the press the head of the Fire Authority had failed to consult with the workers who were to be affected by his allegedly “really good” plan.
In a comment made on Facebook on Saturday (July 1), Chris Hanrahan, the Secretary of Unison Leicestershire Police, observed:
“Very disappointing to read of this in the Mercury, its the first we have heard of it. The Branch Secretary will be making enquiries.”
On the same day, Gavin Lynch, the former chair of the Leicestershire FBU branch, made his own feelings about Mr Lunn’s news very clear:
“Another hair brained scheme that isn’t fit for purpose. Why do these people never learn from their previous mistakes? 2 x Fire Engines, Ariel Ladder Platform and crew will not fit in to Mansfield House Police Station. Unless you’re planning to cut the Fire Engines to one, halving the crew and getting rid of the Ariel perhaps!? Reducing resources by stealth. Unfortunately I have a sneaky suspicion that this is the real objective here.” (Facebook post, July 1)
Mr Lynch is well-informed about such matters as he only left Leicester after helping lead the successful campaign against the previous proposed closures and cuts in 2015-16. He is also now something of a local hero having joined the London Fire Brigade as a Watch Officer, which meant that he was among the many firefighters who risked their lives during the Grenfell Tower tragedy. So Mr Lynch is viscerally aware of the importance of fighting against Tory austerity and fire service funding cuts.
One can only hope that Leicester’s many Labour councillors will take a lead from Jeremy Corbyn, Chris Hanrahan, and Gavin Lynch, and publicly condemn the latest undemocratic hair-brained scheme to endanger all of our lives.
Here the five key Labour politicians who need to promptly oppose Mr Lunn’s proposed cuts include Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby (who is the vice chair of the Fire Authority) and the four Labour members of the Fire Authority, Cllr Aminur Thalukdar, Cllr Kirk Master, Cllr Mansukhlal Chohan, and Cllr Kulwinder Singh Johal.
CONTACT DETAILS FROM COUNCIL WEB SITE
Sir Peter Soulsby
- Phone: 0116 454 0001
- Online: https://forms.leicester.gov.uk/default.aspx/RenderForm/?F.Name=WiiPB8nwtCB
- Twitter: @CityMayorLeic
Cllr Aminur Thalukdar (Stoneygate ward)
- Email: email@example.com
- Mobile: 07736 194825
Cllr Kirk Master (Stoneygate ward)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mobile: 07736 194821
Cllr Mansukhlal Chohan (Belgrave ward)
- Email: email@example.com
- Bus. phone: 0116 454 6360
Cllr Kulwinder Singh Johal (Braunstone Park and Rowley Fields ward)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mobile: 07736 194824