Fire service cuts ‘are unavoidable’

West Hartford Fire Station
West Hartford Fire Station

The administration at County Hall has insisted it had ‘no choice’ over a reduction to the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service’s budget because of Government cuts.

Although the actual proposals, which include closing Haydon Bridge Fire Station and taking a fire engine out of the West Hartford base, still need to be approved at a future council meeting, the £500,000 decrease was confirmed at a meeting last month.

The changes are scheduled to be considered by the county council’s communities and local services overview and scrutiny committee on March 17 and the cabinet on March 21.

The Fire Brigades Union in Northumberland is opposing the plans and after more than 10,000 people signed a petition against the reduction, it called on the authority to find the required savings elsewhere because the proposals would ‘have a major impact on the service’.

But the council’s deputy leader, Dave Ledger, said: “The principle of making £500,000 of savings was agreed by the full council at its meeting in February and we have been consulting on a way to do this which will have the least impact on our communities.

“We have based the proposals on detailed analysis and used the professional expertise of firefighters.

“These are difficult choices and I have said at every opportunity that this is not something we want to do, but we have been left with no choice due to the Government’s cuts, with £3million having already been cut from the service since 2010.”