Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

September 22, 2010 11:54 ET

Essex Tax-Payers to Foot GBP 20 Million Bill for Fire HQ Expansion as Further Cuts in Frontline 999 Services Loom

ESSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Sept. 22, 2010) - Essex fire crews are astonished at the decision of Fire Chiefs last week to splash-out £250,000 on pre-tender works and committing to a £20 Million expansion of the Fire HQ at Kelvedon Park only weeks before savage cuts in frontline services are expected to be announced by the Government in their Comprehensive Spending Review on 20th October. This comes after Essex Fire Authority members voted back in November 2009, to "put plans on hold until there is clarity over the future financial position of public sector bodies."

Only two weeks ago Chief Fire Officer David Johnson announced that he would not sign the agreement to end the long running dispute over last year's frontline cuts and reductions in firefighters because, he said, it would be "entirely reckless to sign up to arrangements that may have to change once new spending targets are revealed".

Keith Flynn Essex FBU Secretary said: "Firefighters across Essex are furious as they now see millions of pounds being committed to expensive building works and IT projects at HQ while service managers are turning up at fire stations warning firefighters of the worst cuts in Essex history to hit frontline fire & rescue services. One minute the chief can't sign an agreement aimed at protecting vital 999 services at fire stations then the next minute he seems to be rushing to sign multi-million pound contracts for expanding his HQ Empire."

A national YouGov poll of public opinion published this month shows:

  • 85% of those polled oppose government plans to cut funding in the Fire & Rescue Service;
  • 95% of those asked thought that despite the economic crisis, we need to keep at least the same number, or employ more firefighters;
  • 95% agreed that a rapid response to fires should be a high priority."

Mark Kinsalla Essex FBU Chair: "Most people are putting off any home improvements until the economic situation gets better and most people agree that if savings have to be made in their public services then frontline 999 services should be protected as a priority - so why is the fire authority doing the opposite? Why the rush to spend £250,000 on pre-tender works when we should wait until at least we know the scale of the cuts we will face after the Comprehensive Spending Review is announced? It might be great to have an all singing, all dancing IT system, new offices and all new training facilities at HQ, but surely these shouldn't take priority over the 999 services provided by firefighters at frontline fire stations?"

The FBU have been calling for ECFRS managers and elected members to sit down with union reps to try and identify the essential services that need protecting as the priority, the desirable services that may need trimming or mothballing and any wasteful inefficiencies that can be cut. The FBU is still waiting for a positive response.

Contact Information

  • Fire Brigades Union
    Keith Flynn
    07956 459111
    Fire Brigades Union
    Mark Kinsalla
    07967 720363
    Fire Brigades Union
    Adrian Clarke
    07917 017713