March for Bewdley Fire Station
March for Bewdley Fire Station

The next steps in the “Save Bewdley Fire Station” campaign will be decided at a public meeting this coming Saturday 16th November, at St George’s Hall in Bewdley, starting 11am.

To date, the campaign has raised a petition with over 2,500 signatures, held a human chain vigil at the Fire Station, 1 public meeting, numerous street stalls, a rally, and a march through the town centre.

The question for campaigners now is how to take things to the next level when Fire Authority bosses have refused to listen?

That question will be put to the public meeting on Saturday 16th November. Suggestions received to date by campaigners include expanding the campaign to other areas, directly challenging local politicians, lobbying Parliament and the Minister responsible, legal action, and direct action. So, this is a matter that campaigners now want the people to decide upon.

Tony Raybould, Campaign Chairman said “Since the petition was lodged with Fire bosses, the Authority has doubled down on their position by refusing to accept a new risk assessment and halt the closure as demanded. This, despite their original decision to close the fire station being based on seriously out of date and flawed data, and a consultation report that deliberately ignored people’s concerns in both Bewdley and Stourport. We’re now putting it back to the people of Bewdley to decide upon, something that the Fire Authority refuses to do because it’s running scared.”

Campaign spokesman Stephen Brown said “It was clear at a recent meeting when Labour Councillor Peter McDonald asked some searching questions of Fire Chief Nathan Travis about Fire Risk assessments and the closure, that he’s no longer a fire fighter, but an austerity supporting politician. For Mr Travis, the standards that protect us are now more about adequate fire cover, rather than the proper level of fire cover. It seems it’s ok to have fewer fire stations, fewer fire engines, increased response times, failure to meet targets, rising numbers of call outs, inadequate resources, and to ignore actual statistics that mean lives are being put at risk in Bewdley and surrounding areas. Well if he wants to act like a politician, he should now expect to be held to account like a politician if he’s going to persist in peddling this dangerous nonsense. That is why we will let the public decide and give their verdict on this failing Fire & Rescue Authority.”

Local resident Corinne Bailey, who helped present the petition, said “I have elderly parents, my mother is disabled, and in the event of a fire, the speed with which the fire engine can attend is vital. Every second counts, especially for those with limited mobility, and in our case, we are told the response could be delayed by minutes not just seconds. If a tragedy occurs it is too late to learn lessons after people have been killed or seriously injured. This is deeply worrying.”

The statistics show a failing Hereford & Worcs Fire Service (stats as a whole) purely because of austerity:

Headcount 2008:
Wholetime Firefighters 342
Retained Firefighters 386
Fire Control 27
Support Staff 126

Headcount 2018:
Wholetime Firefighters 234
Retained Firefighters 365
Fire Control 22
Support Staff 102

Minimum crew on a fire engine
2015 5
2019 4
(Increased safety risk for crews and public)

Attendance time target met (% of Primary Building Fires within 10 minutes):
2010-11 71.4%
2011-12 66.7%
2012-13 unknown
2013-14 54.6%
2014 -15 61.1%
2015-16 60.2%
2016-17 58.2%
2017-18 58.73%
2018-19 54.41%
2019 Quarter 1 47.89%
(Bewdley time to increase by 2.5 minutes)

£2m reduction in local government funding (-21%) since 2016

Since 2010 HWFRS has lost 108 wholetime firefighters (-31%)

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