Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

February 14, 2012 06:14 ET

Cumbria Fire Union to Present Petition to Full Council and Call to Save Cumbria's Only 999 Fire Control

CUMBRIA, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Feb. 14, 2012) - Cumbria Fire Brigades Union are to present a public petition to a full county council meeting in Kendal on 16 February. The union is also calling for full public consultation over plans to axe the county's only fire control room.

Of the 20,000 total signatures on the petition, over 3,000 will be presented to the council on Thursday, more than enough to trigger a full debate. The balance will be presented nationally at Westminster at a later date.

A small delegation of FBU members will attend and they will make a short presentation to the meeting.

The council plans to shut its control room in June with the loss of 12 control posts. They plan to move the work to Cheshire fire service's fire control until 2014.

Staff were only given a week's notice before the axe plan was put to the Cabinet last year. It was a bolt from the blue as the staff had agreed in December 2010 to the loss of three posts, down to 12, to keep the Cumbria control safe in the aftermath of the collapse of the FireControl Project.

The County Council failed to bid for £1.8 million of central Government funding to upgrade their existing control. There was no consultation prior to the decision being made, no debate by the full fire authority, and the public and press were excluded when key financial information was discussed at Cabinet.

The national FireControl Project collapsed at a cost of at least £500 million, the planning was a disaster and the technology wouldn't work. The project, backed by the county council, collapsed costing £500 million, one of the most expensive and disastrous IT projects ever.

Cumbria councillors have signed up to pay for the regional fire control centre without the technology being in place, one of the central fault lines of the defunct FireControl Project. Much is being made of new technology using GPS to direct the movement of fire appliances.

Cumbria FBU brigade secretary Adrian Kevern said "Much is being made of how good the technology is, making all the same claims made for the defunct and disgraced national FireControl Project. Our county is well placed to know that you cannot rely on GPS systems to move your emergency appliances around.

"GPS is useless when roads are blocked by snow, fallen trees after storms or are flooded and unpassable. When bridges are swept away or too damaged to cross your GPS is useless and we are well used to dealing with those scenario's in Cumbria's fire control."

"Council explanations for the move lack credibility and we doubt whether the Cabinet ever understood the full implications of the decision it was taking. The County council has not explained when and how they properly considered all of the plans nor subjected them to proper public scrutiny."

"For councillors to say it is enough to have consulted over a previous botched plan that has now been abandoned is absurd. We need proper public scrutiny and consultation, our councillors must think again."

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