Saturday, 28 November 2015

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1,000 sign petition in Workington fire cuts protest

More than 1,000 people have now signed a petition against planned fire cuts in the Workington area alone.

Cumbria County Council, which is facing major budget cuts, is proposing to halve the number of fire engines in Workington, Whitehaven, Penrith, Maryport and Kendal.

Crew arrangements would also be reviewed to help save more than £500,000 in total.

But protesters, who took to the streets of Workington on Saturday – argue they are putting money above lives.

Kevin Connolly, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) representative for Workington, said they have been met with significant public opposition.

However he believes that still there are people who do not know about the plans.

“We took the petition out with us on Saturday and everyone who went past us signed it. Nobody refused.

“But what concerns me is that some people still don’t seem to be aware of what’s being proposed. We need to spread the word even further so people understand what’s at stake here,” he said.

The county council says it must save £80m over the next three years – on top of the £88m made in the past three.

As part of a stringent review, it is proposing to reduce the number of fire engines in line with decreasing incidents.

But Mr Connolly said that approach is dangerous.

“Yes incidents are down, nobody would argue with that. Community safety have been doing a fantastic job in terms of prevention,” he said.

“But although the target is always to reduce incidents, you can’t stop them. Where there is a hazard there is always a risk, and when that risk materialises into a fire you need the crews and equipment to deal with it.”

He said as well as the petition, the Workington Facebook page now has 1,500 people supporting.

Others around the county are also gathering support, with more than 3,000 people backing the Penrith campaign. Mr Connolly urged people who are opposed to the plans to get in touch or to submit their views to the council directly as part of the ongoing consultation.

To find out more about the county council’s budget proposals and put forward your views go to Paper copies of the consultation document are also available from libraries and public buildings.


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