Wyre Forest Labour is supporting the Fire Brigade Union’s (FBU) calls for a rethink over the closure of Bewdley Fire Station.
Neil Bevan, Hereford & Worcester FBU Organiser said “In 2015, Hereford and Worcester fire and rescue service presented their evidence to justify why you should agree to allow them to close the three Wyre Forest fire stations located in Bewdley, Stourport and Kidderminster, and to centrally locate the resources in a new purpose built ‘blue light hub’. This assertion was based on out of date and in consequence flawed data which will dangerously impair the service on offer putting people at risk”
Stephen Brown, Wyre Forest Labour added “Like the FBU, we are concerned that the closure will not only impact the level of fire cover service in Bewdley, but the whole of Wyre Forest and even Worcestershire because less resource is available County wide. The Fire Service relies on engines and fire personnel to cross-cover other areas in the County when its necessary. How anyone can now think this closure is still justified is beyond belief. It is now clear that response times will increase, Fire engine cover will reduce, and so lives will be put at risk. For instance, they expect retained firefighters in Bewdley, and if there is a local incident, to first get into Kidderminster, to then go back to Bewdley to attend that incident. It’s madness. And what if there’s already an incident elsewhere? The cover will be stretched beyond the limits. The decision is an act of public service vandalism so typical of the type we’ve seen since 2010, thanks to Tory cuts, and there will only be one loser, the public. Just how much more of this is the public expected to tolerate?
Tony Raybould, local Bewdley Labour Branch activist said “We’re 100% backing this call by the FBU and Wyre Forest Labour to save our Fire Station. For too long, our local communities have had to put up with losing one service after another, it’s not on. FBU statistics show the decision to close our Fire Station is deeply flawed and we need a new risk assessment based on the current provisions across Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The Fire Service needs to reopen this whole matter and think again.”
These calls for a rethink are based on new data that shows the rationale for closing the fire station were flawed, and that the number of incidents have since risen thanks largely to Tory cuts that were not properly appreciated before. Crews have to travel further to get to incidents, their response times are longer, and they are not meeting the Fire Service targets. What price are they putting on people’s lives?
The factual circumstances have changed since 2015 as the FBU stated the following:
- There are now have fewer firefighters available on fewer fire engines.
- In 2015 there were 10 guaranteed fire engines overnight. Now there are 7.
- This will reduce to only 4 if the Service carry out their plan to replace the current Day Crewed Plus with a day duty system.
- Call volume has increased across the whole of the UK. The number of incidents attended by crews from the Wyre Forest have increased by over 34% over the last 5 years. Bewdley fire crews have seen an increase of over 52%!
- In 2015 HWFRS projected a £3.3m spending gap by 2019-20. The Service now have a balanced budget until 2021-22.
- Within the Service’s public consultation document it was acknowledged that attendance times would increase for certain areas.
- Hereford and Worcester fire and rescue service have set their own target for emergency response times with 1 fire engine to be on scene within 10 minutes, on 75% of occasions. The 2015 Wyre Forest consultation document stated that the average response time to all incidents across the service is 11 minutes and 05 seconds. Thus, reaching the 10 minute target on only 61.1% of occasions.
- In 2019, the Service are only managing to hit their own target for just over half of all emergency call outs.