Shaun slams fire budget cuts

Shaun Woodward MP with Eccleston Fire Crew
Shaun Woodward MP with Eccleston Fire Crew

SHAUN Woodward has slammed the government for forcing the region’s fire authority into a £10m budget cut.

The MP for St Helens South and Whiston, who helped to save Eccleston Fire Station from the axe, claims Merseyside’s fire authority has been put in an “impossible position”.

Under budget plans approved yesterday, £7m will be stripped from the service’s prevention arm – leading to at least 57 job losses from around 300 staff.

A further £3m will be culled from the service’s response arm – with around 90 firefighter posts lost and the number of fire engines falling to 28, down from 42 in 2011.

Mr Woodward said: “These cuts are twice of those inflicted on other forces, which will mean a reduction in service - a reduction which could very well cost lives. Whether it is a house fire or someone trapped in a vehicle collision on the East Lancs Road it could be the difference between life and death.”

Nearly 100 firefighter posts were lost, along with 80 support staff, due to a two-year £9.5m deficit imposed in 2011. Around 760 firefighters would be left on Merseyside under the new proposals, with a new shift system introduced to try to mitigate the job losses.

The fire service want to avoid compulsory redundancies and hope the firefighter job losses can be achieved through “natural wastage”.