MPs meet fire chiefs to discuss budget cuts

CAMBRIDGESHIRE fire bosses met with the county’s MPs at the House of Commons last week to discuss the service’s budget cuts programme.

Chief fire officer Graham Stagg said the meeting had “clarified” some misunderstandings, but warned again that cuts may have to be made to frontline services.

All the region’s MPs attended or sent representatives to the meeting last Wednesday, where they offered support in helping the service to collaborate with other brigades. That could involve sharing services or functions, including human resources or procurement.

Mr Stagg was accompanied by his senior management team, including deputy chief fire officer Chris Strickland, head of the service redesign programme, and fire authority chairman Roy Pegram.

Mr Stagg said: “A number of issues were raised and a number of misunderstandings clarified.

“I welcome the offer of support from MPs for assistance in gaining Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) favour to explore further ways to collaborate with other fire and rescue services.”

CFRS faces a budget shortfall of between �4.2million and �6m, dependent upon Government funding revisions, and has identified �4.2m of savings with minimal frontline impact.

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Kevin Napier, Fire Brigades’ Union secretary for Cambridgeshire, said: “If some of the MPs are confused about the proposals, that could also apply to fire authority members who had been in post for just a week when they were asked to take decisions on the cuts on May 26.”

Mr Stagg said: “If we are lucky, we hope to make our savings without impacting on the level of service we provide. But, if we are unlucky, we are forced into a situation where uncomfortable decisions will have to be made.”