Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has turned the heat up on Tory-Lib Dem Fire Minister Brandon Lewis for failing to personally respond to a Sefton Council resolution that raises concerns about the effect of government cuts to Merseyside Fire Service on public safety.
Borough councillors passed a resolution last month which called for the Tory-Lib Dem Government to bring an end to its cuts to the emergency service.
The full resolution reads:
Sefton Council recognises the excellent work undertaken by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and applauds the long term commitment of all its officers and staff.
The Council also notes that the ability to protect the people of Sefton is being jeopardised by the Government funding cuts, which are also undermining staff morale.
The Council is deeply concerned by the findings of the Sir Ken Knight review of Fire and Rescue Service's which makes the case for further huge cuts, mergers with other Authorities or Police and Crime Commissioners and most worryingly privatisation.
This Council notes with serious concern the Government’s alarming proposals to privatise part if not all functions of the Fire and Rescue Services, along with yet further cuts to their grant funding.
This Council is deeply worried that the Government has lost sight of the Fire Service’s main purpose, to protect residents from fire, road traffic collisions and other emergencies.
Recent Government cuts have seen Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service suffer cuts totalling £19.2m over the 4 year spending review with 180 fire fighters’ posts deleted and a reduction in fire engines from 42 to 28.
The Government’s proposal for further huge cuts in 2015 will have devastating effects on operational response, community safety and prevention work.
This Council therefore calls on the Government to cease their irresponsible cuts to our Fire and Rescue Services and pledge instead to protect them from further cuts and threats of privatisation.
Despite the resolution being passed on September 5, and copies immediately being forwarded on to the Minister, the council only received a written response a department official and not the Minister.
Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has written to the Minister and raised the issue in Parliament.
Bill said: "The council's resolution is one that I fully support.
"Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service provide a vital, life-saving service. By cutting their funding as much as they have, this Tory-Lib Dem Government is dicing with people's lives.
"Sefton's resolution makes that point very effectively and at the very least Minister should make a pint of making personal contact with the council himself, and not getting one of his junior officials to do it for him.
"I have therefore written to the minister, Brandon Lewis, to ask him for a response to the council’s resolution.
"It is very worrying that the minister has not replied to the council but left it to one of his officials.
"The government has given the council the brush off, but more to the point, the way that the minister has ignored very real concerns shows a worrying attitude to public safety.
"The cuts to the fire service are taking a huge risk and for the government to treat this so lightly by relegating the responsibility for replying to a civil servant suggests either ignorance of the danger or a very calculating willingness to put lives at risk."