Firefighters’ union bosses say they will leave ‘no stone unturned’ in stopping cuts worth £6m

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CONCERNED union bosses say they will leave “no stone unturned” in fighting cuts worth £6m which will see dozens of firefighter jobs axed.

Cleveland Fire Authority say they had to make cost-cutting proposals which included the closure of Marine Fire Station, in Middlesbrough and the axing of 114 full-time firefighters due to the Government’s £5.758m reduction to its funding over the next four years.

The budget plans will also see a review of management structure and back office staff and heavier reliance on part-time retained firefighters and fire engineers.

But union chiefs plan further talks with management while they say industrial action is a possibility, but stress that is a “long way off”.

Davy Howe, Cleveland Fire Brigades’ Union Brigade secretary, said: “We won’t be leaving any stone unturned. The public can rest assured that the FBU will be taking the fight on for them.”

The FBU bosses point to the recent major blaze at the Hartlepool Snooker Centre, attended by six appliances from across Cleveland, and the weekend fire in the turbine hall at Hartlepool Power Station, which saw 10 appliances attend.

Mr Howe said under the new proposals there will be a heavier reliance on retained firefighters which would lead to increased response times leading to more deaths and serious injury.

He added: “We will continue to consult with our members about the direction they want to take and we have already requested talks with management to try and mitigate the changes and if any further funding comes forward to find ways of stopping or changing some of the proposals.

“We are also continuing to work with the MPs and to get them to keep pushing the message to the Government.”

Mr Howe said industrial action remains an option but would be subject to the usual ballot process. Authority members have met with Fire Minister Brandon Lewis MP to outline their concerns about the Government cuts - a move welcomed by the FBU.

Speaking last week, authority chairman, Robbie Payne said: “We believe the Government’s grant allocation to Cleveland Fire Authority is totally unfair as once again we have suffered the highest reduction in spending power of all the English fire authorities.”