HUNDREDS of firefighters angry about budget cuts and job losses are expected to rally outside of Cleveland Fire Brigade’s headquarters ahead of a crunch meeting.
Cleveland Fire Brigades’ Union, backed by a 7,000-strong petition, will be rallying before Cleveland Fire Authority meets to discuss £6m worth of cuts over the next four years.
The proposals will result in 130 job losses, reducing senior managers and back office staff and the closure of a fire station in Middlesbrough, with the service relying more on part-time retained firefighters and fire engines.
Cleveland Fire Authority meets at 1pm next Friday, March 7, at the headquarters at the Queens Meadow Business Park, in Hartlepool. FBU officials hope to have up to 200 members rallying outside.
The proposals have angered the FBU and their petition has already been signed by 7,000 people, which could be 10,000 before next week.
Davy Howe, Cleveland Fire Brigades’ Union Brigade secretary, said: “We are hoping to get as many members there as possible to highlight the strength of feeling against these proposals.
“We have been overwhelmed with the support shown for the petition across the Cleveland area, plus the support from residents and MPs.”
Labour councillor Robbie Payne, chair of Cleveland Fire Authority, said: “I fully understand and appreciate the strength of feeling among firefighters, but given that the fire authority faces a massive £6m cut in its Government grant over the next four years we felt we were left with no other choice but to draw up these proposals and we have encouraged people to give us their views on them.
“We believe that the proposals will have the least negative impact on service provision and, most importantly, on community and firefighter safety.”
Under the proposals, Hartlepool, which currently has two full-time engines at Stranton Station and a retained crew on the Headland, would still have three crews but only one at Stranton would be full-time, the other two retained. The changes wouldn’t come in until 2017-18.
The FBU petition is at www.ipetitions.com/petition/oppose-the-cuts-in-cleveland-fire-brigade